Thursday, February 24, 2011


In Rwanda in 1994, when an estimated 800,000 men women and children were being viciously slaughtered by the Hutu, United Nations, the international community, and "the leader of the free world." all wrung their hands, issued impassioned statements, and passed resolutions -- and did nothing to stem the genocide. In 1998 President Clinton apologized profusely for inaction. Some thought it could never happen again. It's happening again in Libya, where the mad dog egomaniac, who has run the country for 40 years of tyranny has launched his Air Force to bomb and strafe peaceful protesters against his tyrannical rule. His planes and helicopters are again in the air.

In the face of governmental mass murder on the streets of Tripoli the UN Security Council has unanimously passed a condemnatory resolution, and President Obama has denounced the murderous behavior of Mr. Qaddafi. But once again, both did – exactly nothing. Yes, the fairy with several hundred US citizens had not yet left Libya because of bad weather, and there was a case for waiting until they were safely beyond Libyan territorial waters before actually doing something other than rhetorically. But this time, it should not be a replay of Rwanda. The president should call for an immediate emergency UN Security Council session and demand an immediate authorization of a no-fly zone above Tripoli along the lines of the US-UK-French no-fly enforcement over Iraq following the 1991 removal of Saddam Hussein’ invasion forces from Kuwait

Some of us have, over the years, fruitlessly advocated more life- and cost-saving preventive action rather than retroactively cleaning up the messes and internationally forbidden crimes that have already taken place. Granted, this runs against the conservative culture of the decision-making community and diplomacy in general, as well as straying from well-established juridical principles that do not recognize crimes until they have actually taken place (sensibly modified in the case of hatching terrorist plots). Preventive action has had a recent rebirth, at least in theory. It is past time for a coalition or if necessary the United States alone to actually prevent more mass killings from the air in Libya. This is likely to be among the contingency plans under discussion in Washington. If the president decides to act now and do the right thing, he may be blocked by arguments from Navy and Air Force that not enough time, forces him to look not available etc. I hope he agrees that he has every right to expect immediate compliance from our multi-trillion dollar defense establishment.

1 comment:

  1. Linc, I really like your arguments here and I can't refute them. Do you worry, however, that if the U.S. goes it alone it may actually help Khadafi rally support in the worse case while in the best case rewarding the U.S. with de-facto responsibility for securing another volatile and unstable country?