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US action in Libya saved my family's lives. There should be no regret in that.

As a Libyan American who spent the last six months in Benghazi, I am saddened to hear Americans express regret for US intervention in Libya. The US must remember that with international influence comes responsibility – one it bravely upheld in saving the lives of countless civilians.

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Intervention was a humanitarian act

I am disheartened when I hear how many Americans now argue that our intervention was not a “humanitarian act,” but rather was founded on US interest in Libya’s oil reserves. I can’t deny that oil was probably at the forefront of the international community’s decision to act. Libyan people have even said, “Thank God we have oil.” However, to the Libyan people, US involvement was a humanitarian act because it saved many lives.

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I also understand the concern of many fellow Americans who say this intervention in Libya will increase America’s financial burden during an extremely tough economic time. The following analogy from one of my advisors at Linfield College puts the decision to intervene in context: “Imagine you are struggling to make a living and only have one loaf of bread to eat. Then you walk by someone who has absolutely no food. Even though you only have one loaf, you will probably choose to share your bread with that person rather than leave them with nothing.”

When we have people begging us to help save their lives, how can we say, “No, you are not important enough to us.” This is a conflict that is very close to my heart, and I want Americans to know how important they are to the Libyan people.

America's power and responsibility

Peaceful demonstrators, including my family, went out onto the streets to ask for freedom, justice, and dignity, and the Qaddafi regime responded with horrific brutality. The Libyan people had no way to defend themselves. A friend of mine who was out demonstrating told me, “We just have our hands and rocks. We have nothing.” Without American and international intervention, many of those demonstrating would not have lived to continue their fight for freedom.

I hope that my fellow Americans keep such bravery in perspective: With American ability and influence comes immense responsibility – a responsibility we bravely upheld in intervening in Libya to save innumerable lives, including those of my family.

Nadia Abraibesh graduated from Linfield College last spring. In Benghazi, she joined protest rallies and served as an informal interpreter for Western journalists, including a reporter from the Christian Science Monitor. She will soon serve with Teach for America.


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