Thursday's U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorizes international intervention into Libya to protect civilians, is the first time the world has pursued humanitarian intervention in the 21st century. The resolution calls for "all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country," and indeed, British and French diplomats said this morning that they are now fueling jets to enforce a no fly zone. Speaking in a televised address this afternoon, U.S. President Barack Obama also explained his position largely in humanitarian terms: If the world failed to intervene, he said, "The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow."
That's one reading of the events unfolding in Washington, London, and Paris. But there's also a more cynical view: that the intervention, centered on the enforcement of a no fly zone, is too little too late. And that's if you agree that the United States and its allies should be involved in the first place. Foreign involvement could play into Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's hands, other analysts worry, giving him an excuse to strike harder against the now Western-backed rebels.
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