Who exactly are the Arab League?
If there had been no statement from the Arab League backing the idea of a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya, there would have been no UN Security Council resolution 1973 (Russia and China would have vetoed it; the US would almost certainly not have backed it.)
And if there had been no Security Council resolution, there would have been no warplanes or cruise missiles attacking Muammar Gaddafi's military machine.
So it's worth looking in some detail at who exactly are the League of Arab States. There are 22 of them in total (21 at the moment, as Libya's membership has been suspended.) Total population: around 350 million; richest member (measured by GDP per capita): Qatar, which is also, on this measure, the richest country in the world; poorest: Somalia, which on the same measure is the world's fifth poorest.
When the League issued its statement calling on the UN to put in place a no-fly zone (Algeria and Syria voted against), the secretary-general Amr Moussa said: "It has one goal: to protect the civilian population."
The statement said nothing about wanting to encourage democracy or freedom in Libya, and you don't have to dig too deep to see why not.
According to the Democracy Index drawn up every year by the Economist Intelligence Unit, only two members of the Arab League (Lebanon and Palestine, which isn't even an internationally-recognised state) make it into the top 100 of the world's democracies.
That qualifies them, under the EIU criteria, as "hybrid" forms of government, some way below either "full democracies" or "flawed democracies". The remaining 20 Arab League governments are classified as "authoritarian".
According to the Freedom in the World Index, drawn up by the think tank Freedom House, no member of the Arab League qualifies as free. Only three (Kuwait, Lebanon and Morocco) qualify as "partly free"; the rest are "not free".
It is possible that Egypt and Tunisia will emerge over the coming months into fully functioning democracies. The picture in countries like Bahrain, Yemen, Syria - and Libya - is still far too uncertain to be able to guess what kind of future lies in store for their people.
And of course, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two of the countries that voted in favour of the Arab League's no fly zone statement, are also now providing troops for Bahrain, to help the government bring an end to the pro-reform protests there.