The approval by the Arab League of a No-Fly Zone for Libya, combined with increasingly urgent appeals from the Libyan opposition and some Arab voices, has helped build support for an international and American move in that direction. I am just leaving the Al-Jazeera Forum in Doha, where I had the opportunity to discuss this question in depth with a wide range of Arab opinion leaders and political activists as well as several leading Libyan opposition representatives (see this excellent post by Steve Clemons from the same conference). There is both more and less to this Arab support than meets the eye. Arabs are indeed deeply concerned about the bloody stalemate in Libya, and want international action. But if that action takes military form, including the kind of bombing would actually be required to implement a No-Fly Zone, I suspect that the narrative would rapidly shift against the United States.
While Arab public opinion should not be the sole consideration in shaping American decisions on this difficult question, Americans also should not fool themselves into thinking that an American military intervention will command long-term popular Arab support. Every Arab opinion leader and Libyan representative I spoke with at the conference told me that "American military intervention is ab