The Middle East Channel

Does the world belong in Libya's war?

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.

Read the FP debate.

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The Middle East Channel

The fight of their lives

BENGHAZI, Libya — As the U.N. Security Council voted the evening of March 17 to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, the international media broadcast the joyous reaction from the streets of Benghazi, the de facto capital of the Libyan opposition. Thousands of Libyans celebrated in the streets, waving the old Libyan flag that has become the revolution's standard and firing guns happily into the air. A spokeswoman for the Libyan opposition said that the revolutionaries were "embracing each other" over the U.N. decision.

But until recently, Benghazi's attitude toward outside intervention was different. The rebels' attitude toward the role of the international community evolved as Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi's forces advanced aggressively over the past week, threatening to use their superior firepower to quash the poorly armed rebellion.

Read more.

 

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