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Obama Opens Libyan Pandora’s Box

March 29, 2011

President Barack Obama speaks about U.S. and NATO involvement in military action against Libya during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, March 28, 2011. AFP Photo / Saul LOEB

While hindsight is 20/20, the scope of vision into what lies ahead for Libya is limited at best, making Obama’s decision inevitably controversial.  Limited intervention was decided upon based on the evidence indicating eventual violence against the Libyan people.  President Obama authoritatively stated Monday night, “I refuse to let that happen.”

By only committing the U.S. to protecting lives and not facilitating a regime change, Obama hopes to hold an already fragile U.S. coalition together.  “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq,” the President said.  “Regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars.  That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

Many are opposed to the implementation of a no-fly zone, claiming a drain of resources already spread too thin, while others feel Obama took too long to reach the decision.  In defense, he cited the one-year time frame the international community needed before intervening on the slaughter in Bosnia.

But will Obama’s move with Libya implicitly commit the U.S. to any of the other protests breaking out in the region?  Where do America’s obligations begin and end with facilitating democracy?  Obama noted: “There will be times when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are. Challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security, responding to natural disasters, for example, or preventing genocide…these may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us…In such cases we should not be afraid to act.”

However vague he left his criterion for instigating U.S. intervention in Libya, the President reaffirmed: “Wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States.”

-By Kaeleigh Forsyth, Contributor

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