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World help for rebels in Libya: Is a no-fly zone the only answer?

Obama wants Qaddafi to leave, but a no-fly zone may not be doable or adequate. Also a humanitarian crisis may demand a stronger response.

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President Obama appeared to make a rather strong commitment last week. He declared that, “The aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy, and dignity must be met.”

And he demanded that Muammar Qaddafi give up power and leave – the same way that dictators in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt left after popular uprisings.

This week, the president and many leaders in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe are trying to make good on such objectives. Their success would not only save civilian lives but also influence pro-democracy rebellions in other Arab lands.

Time is short to decide if outside intervention is needed. Preferably not. But the well-armed military of Mr. Qaddafi has a strong advantage with the use of fighter aircraft and appears to be holding the ground forces of ragtag rebel groups to a stalemate for control of key cities along the Mediterranean coast.

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