Since I’m not a political party and don’t have a vote at the United Nations, my opinions on the Libyan conflict and no-fly zone happily matter to no-one (except perhaps some enraged bloggers). I certainly won’t be demonstrating against the no-fly zone and, as soon as it gets implemented (as opposed to voted on) I hope it works. But I’d rather not be here. The problem is, as I see it, that the involvement of France, the UK, and the “international community”, and the framing of the issue in terms of civilian protection, fundamentally changes the nature of what’s going on. A series of popular demonstrations, met with armed force, was rapidly transformed into an armed popular uprising, with the possibility of the Libyan people taking control for themselves. And armed popular uprisings, aimed at overthrowing the state do not admit of the neat categorizations of persons presupposed by just war theory, humanitarian intervention, and so forth. The people armed is just that: the people armed. I don’t know if the uprising could have succeeded. The news was contradictory—with frequent reports by Gaddafi that he’d taken cities proving to be false—but, on the whole, it was not encouraging. I’d certainly rather have a no-fly zone (if it works, which is a big if) than the uprising defeated and mass killings by the Gaddafi family in revenge. But a successful popular uprising is no longer a possibility either. Most of the Libyan people have now been cast into the role of passive victims rather than active agents of their own liberation. Some Libyans may rally to the Gaddafi regime out of a sense of wounded national pride at outside interference. And even if Gaddafi falls (which I hope he will) the successor regime will lack the legitimacy it might have had, and will no doubt be resented and undermined by nationalist Gaddafi loyalists biding their time and representing it as the creature of the West. So not good, though I confess to lacking the information to know whether it could have been better.