Global Briefing, Mar. 18, 2011: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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This Means War? — On Swampland, TIME’s Mark Thompson explains the U.N. resolution on Libya and mulls the possibility of  war.

Heading South — In a dispatch from Niigata, Hannah Beech tells the stories of those fleeing Japan’s devastated northeast by train. Full coverage, here.

Mighty Pricey — The United States is spending $1 trillion to buy and operate a fleet of F-35s. (That’s more than Australia’s GDP! ) They’re a symbol of “everything that’s wrong with defense spending in America,” says Dominic Tierney.

Getaway Cars — The China Car Times (yes, they’re real) notes that the Toyota Hilux, the long-time favorite of guerilla warriors, is being surpassed by made-in-China pickups. Oh, the times, they are a-changing.

‘Near Misses’— A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists details safety problems at 14 American nuclear power plants in 2010 alone. TIME’s Eben Harrell dissects their findings.

Appraising Petraeus — The LA Times gathers the most interesting responses to the general’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee this week.

Does That Fly? — A no-fly zone over Libya isn’t necessary when Libya’s neighbors have enough air-power — and the responsibility — to deal with the situation themselves, argues Leslie H. Gelb at the Daily Beast. David Scheffer says the measure was necessary to put Gaddafi “on a leash” and protect the populace.

Buon Compleanno! — Italy turned 150 yesterday.  The Economist salutes the boot in video. No comment, yet, from the cast of the Jersey Shore.