As for Yemen, it is an ungovernable snakepit, home to rival tribes, secessionists and a local branch of al-Qaeda. Nobody in his right mind would intervene there. ~The Economist
Of course, “intervening” in Yemen wouldn’t have to mean attacking Saleh’s regime or anything nearly so stupid. The U.S. might just stop supplying the Yemeni government with weapons, or at least suspend such supplies until Saleh stops using force against protesters. The argument that a Libyan war will keep protest movements in the region alive is a weak one to start with, but it gets even weaker when there is minimal effort to pressure allied governments to ease up on violent crackdowns at the same time that the U.S. is helping to escalate and intensify a conflict in Libya.
What exactly is the difference between Yemen and Libya? If Yemen is such an “ungovernable snakepit” in which no sane outsiders would ever intervene, what makes Libya any better? By all accounts, it is home to home to rival tribes, secessionists and al-Qaeda sympathizers. Far from providing a compelling defense of the war, this argument drives home that the war in Libya remains arbitrary, accidental, and ill-conceived.