A protester holds a banner beneath a Kingdom of Libya flag during an anti-Gaddafi demonstration in Benghazi, March 31
Nicholas Kristof (New York Times): Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.
But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.
We were all moved by Eman al-Obeidy, the woman who burst into the reporters’ hotel in Tripoli with her story of gang-rape and torture, only to be dragged away by security goons. If we had not intervened in Libya, Qaddafi forces would have reached Benghazi and there might have been thousands of Eman al-Obeidys.
It has been exceptionally rare for major powers to intervene militarily for predominantly humanitarian reasons…. We are inconsistent. There’s no doubt that we cherry-pick our humanitarian interventions. But just because we allowed Rwandans or Darfuris to be massacred, does it really follow that to be consistent we should allow Libyans to be massacred as well? Isn’t it better to inconsistently save some lives than to consistently save none?
….The difficulties of Iraq and Afghanistan have again made many Americans – particularly on the left – allergic to any use of military force, even to save lives in a limited operation with very few civilian casualties, like the one in Libya.
…The International Criminal Court is investigating Colonel Qaddafi, with an indictment possible as soon as next month. It would be a fine step toward ending global impunity for atrocities if a SWAT team of Libyans and coalition forces swooped down one day and seized Colonel Qaddafi to face trial in The Hague. It’s the kind of thing that no one can predict, but it’s an ending that would leave this Libyan incursion remembered not only for the lives it saved, but also as a milestone in the history of humanitarianism.
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