No fly zone over Libya? Obama must take a stand soon.
The US is weighing a no-fly zone in Libya that might prevent Qaddafi from more attacks on rebel forces. Obama must weigh key lessons from history before acting.
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The world’s motive to protect innocent people and anti-Qaddafi freedom forces has so far been correct – as seen in various sanctions imposed on what remains of the Libyan regime. And Mr. Obama’s decision to send US warships to the shores of Tripoli is a wise precautionary step, in case of a critical humanitarian need.
But the political will of Americans to intervene with force and the economic means to do so just aren’t there – yet. Dangerous levels of US debt and an overextended military have weakened the world’s sole superpower in its historic role as defender of the free world.
As in Tunisia and Egypt, the best outcome would be for Libyans themselves to oust their dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, without military help from outside powers like the United States. Events are moving fast, and it’s difficult to know which way this budding revolution will go. The rebels in Libya’s east are debating whether to ask for outside help.
Still, the potential repercussions of not acting militarily need to be seriously weighed – and not just in the Oval Office, Pentagon, and State Department.
Mr. Qaddafi is a ruthless dictator with a record of vengeance against opponents – as seen in recent days as he has become more isolated. The morality of letting him commit mass killing needs to be debated widely now – and not after the fact, as was the case with Rwanda’s genocide.
It was the West’s mistake not to intervene in that 1994 African massacre that helped persuade NATO in 1999 to save Kosovo from Serbian atrocities. In 2000, Britain’s military intervention in Sierra Leone was also done to prevent a slaughter. Obama would be wise to engage China and Russia, as key United Nations Security Council members, on their degree of support for humanitarian intervention in Libya.