Tuesday 6 December 2016

Doing nothing on Libya isn't an option for Obama

Gaddafi's ruthlessness in Libya is about to force the White House's hand, writes Anne Applebaum

Published 11/03/2011 | 05:00

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, gives an interview in Tripoli yesterday as his troops continue efforts to crush a popular rebellion
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, gives an interview in Tripoli yesterday as his troops continue efforts to crush a popular rebellion

Is it cowardice? Is it indecisiveness? Or is it clever diplomacy? Depending on who you ask you'll get a different explanation for US President Barack Obama's silence on Libya. Since the uprising began, he has made only one extended comment on the Libyan rebellion, and it was thoroughly anodyne.

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He declared -- surprise! -- that the US "strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people". He said he had "instructed his administration to prepare the full range of options to respond to this crisis". And concluded: "The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn't represent the work of the US or any foreign power."

That last sentence contains the key to his thinking. Odd though it sounds, the debate inside the administration isn't about whether to intervene: it's about how America can help defeat Gaddafi without collateral damage -- and without stigmatising rebels as American puppets.

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