Dan2 and Jason-
But wouldn't arming rebels also allow imperialists to select who among the rebel leaderships, in their judgment, would be most amenable to Western interests? Wouldn't the demand that Qaddafy's frozen funds be released to the rebels so they could pursue arms purchases through backdoor channels leave them vulnerable to the same manipulation? The point is that any call for Western intervention has to be treated with suspicion, because all involve some form of temporary alliance of convenience with interests incompatible with the long term health of the revolution. These objections are not trivial. But that point has been made in almost all contributions to this site. Which deal with the devil the rebels chose however is their call, not ours. On the other hand, if it were so patently objectionable to the Arab masses---as objectionable as it appears to some anti-imperialists such as yourselves---it is remarkable how silent they are in echoing your demands. That they have not taken to the streets of Tunis and Cairo should at least impart Western leftists with a dose of introspection before making demands that are blatantly out of step with the present mood of Arab democracy.
Clearly,the immediate issue is how the insurgency properly balances its urgent need for physical survival with its need to free itself from imperial domination, thereby avoiding the exchange of one oppressor for another. That is why they oppose troops on the ground. This is their way of threading that needle. But ultimately that cannot succeed at the national level. It can only be done by the Arab democratic revolution in the process of consolidation, a process which would face enormous additional hurdles were the rebels to go down in defeat.
The call to stop the bombings not as a free standing demand--as much of the anti-war movement is doing, but as contingency to the arming of the Libyan opposition at least has the merit of clearly defining whose side you--Dan2 and Jason-- favor. But you have yet to make that elemental distinction. Calling simultaneously for a victory to the Libyan revolution and for the immediate end to the bombing, on the other hand, is analogous to calling for one to hold his breath and breathe.
This posture, of burnishing your anti-imperialist bona fides, while being willing to acquiesce defacto in Qaddafy's destruction of a movement that embodies the aspirations of Libya's oppressed and exploited, would be disastrous all around. It would mean placing Libya again under secret police rule, with a newly emboldened and embittered tyrant---flush with oil revenue---and itching to settle scores with Tunisia and Egypt who approved of the imperialist imposed no fly zone.
And it would destroy our credibility as dependable allies to the Arab masses as they struggle to free themselves from tyranny. It would mean that we placed our desire for politically clean hands above the well-being of Arab freedom fighters. It would condemn the West itself--Left no less than Right---as enemies and betrayers of isolated Arab liberation struggle, as it is forced to turn inwards. And, in the end, socialists who took your advice of opposing the no-fly zone and damn the consequences would also have, despite your best intentions, covered themselves in the blood and filth of complicity.