Thursday, October 20, 2011

Goodbye and good riddance, Gadhafi

We don't relish anyone's death, but for Moammar Gadhafi passing we'd be tempted to make an exception. The long-time dictator of this Arab country got his just desserts after holding his people in virtual bondage for most of his four-decade long reign, slaughtering thousands of his citizens over that time and pledging to slay even more when Libyans rose up in rebellion earlier this year as the Arab Spring in other countries boosted their confidence.

Back in March, when President Barack Obama joined with other leaders and countries to push for a United Nations no-fly zone, airstrikes and "all means necessary" to halt the dictator's bloody assault against his own people, our editorial praised those moves as necessary and humane. They proved to be a great aid to the rebels’ success.

But even after Gadhafi's regime was toppled in late summer, he continued fighting back from outpost to outpost. We were reminded of something that Duke University political science professor Peter Feaver said when the no-fly zone was put in place. He said the wily Gadhafi was "not without options." Feaver, who served on the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said Gadhafi could consolidate forces and halt rebel advances. "It could take months to really bring him to his knees, " Feaver said.

It did. But it didn't take U.S. troops on the ground, as some feared, or loss of U.S. lives.
The U.S. can't and shouldn't intervene in every humanitarian crisis. But where it can, working in collaboration with other countries and with minimal U.S. footprint, if possible, it should. Obama had the right arguments for intervention last March: there was the capacity to prevent imminent harm to Libyans with little risk to U.S. forces; there were willing international partners, including Arab nations; and there were possible negative spillover effects of inaction, including encouraging other dictators to conclude that repression is the best strategy.

Moammar Gadhafi's death isn't the end of the story in Libya. What happens next - who the new leaders are, how the country comes together now that Gadhafi is dead, and what the country's relationships are with others in the region and the world - is vital. But today, it's welcome news that Gadhafi is gone - for good.

Fannie Flono


Wiley Coyote said...

If George W Bush had used drones to bring down Hussein, he would have been vilified for killing a foreign head of state.

Then there will be those who said he should have done it.

Bush 1 had every reason to take him out back then but the directive was to free Kuwait, even though Saddam was gassing his own people.

Now Obama has done the dirty deed with Gadhafi...

Here's the stupidity of our current administration.

We're sending 100 advisors to Africa to track down a killer that has been on the loose for 20 years.

Why are we not sending in the drones like we did today?

Tandemfusion said...

Would that the world were so simple that we could expect that when we choose a side in a conflict, we haven chosen the side of good and of humanity, merely because we waant that to be so. But of course that is simply not the way it works. And the reality is that this celebration is premature.

Other than that they were the side we chose, we have no indication that the next 42 years will be any better of the people of Libya. They could be. We would like them to be. But realistically, they could also be little different, or even worse. We chose the side of the Mubarak's opponents in Egypt with the President saying, "The people of Egypt have spoken. Nothing less than democracy will carry the day." And of course we were very wrong. A a strongman who seriously limited the freedoms of the Egyptian people has been replaced with a dictatorship the instead murders them. A staunch ally of the U.S. for 40 years, and Israel's only ally in the region has been cast aside in exchange for a regime hostile to both of those interests. W eight for stability in the region has been turned to a source of instability. Better Mubarak had remained, with all his sins, than what has happened.

To declare that Libya is better off without Gaddhafi is to state as fact what is neither known nor even hinted at, and smacks of unthoughtful jingoism.