Qaddafi's death proves that Obama was right
The death of Qaddafi isn't just a victory for Libya. It validates Obama's and NATO's intervention – as opposed to the bitter ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The international community must now continue to support Libya as it builds an inclusive democracy and rebuilds its economy.
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Today’s dramatic events confirm the wisdom of NATO’s decision, with UN and Arab League blessing, to intervene in the early stage of the civil war on behalf of the Libyan people’s army. NATO made the critical difference in denying Qaddafi’s forces use of airpower and in blocking and preventing a likely bloody siege of Benghazi. The British and French leaders deserve great credit for leading the NATO effort.Skip to next paragraph
Mr. Obama was surely right to commit the United States, however reluctantly, to the NATO campaign. The Libya operation, like President Clinton’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, demonstrates that when powerful NATO forces are used for a precise mission with a clear and specific mandate and result, they can help them to liberate others without the debilitating long-term occupations that have characterized the bitter ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this sense, today’s liberation of the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s terrible and bloody reign, is a victory for NATO, too.
The first, critical phase of the Libyan civil war is over. The next phase of building a new nation and new identity will be just as important and perhaps even more difficult than driving the dictator from power.
Nicholas Burns is professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics, and director of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is also faculty chair for programs on the Middle East and on India and South Asia. He served as under secretary of State for political affairs from 2005 to 2008. Previously, he was US ambassador to NATO.
This piece also appeared on the Power & Policy blog at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.