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Is Obama Helping or Hindering Libya?

Recently, much of the news has been devoted to the situation in Libya, as General Gadhafi refuses to give up his power and continues fighting his own people to keep it. Now, with Obama’s decision to use force to urge Gadhafi to step down, the news’ focus has shifted closer to home.

Many Republicans, and even some Democrats, have criticized this decision. Complaints about the president’s decision range from his not consulting Congress to not having clear plans as to what he wants to achieve, and the fact that we are acting in an area of the world hostile toward the United States.

However, I think we must realize that Obama is not acting alone in using military force in Libya. Obama is merely responding to Resolution 1973 passed by the UN Security Council last month. Resolution 1973 calls for, among other things, the protection of Libyan citizens against Gadhafi and the enforcement of a no fly zone over Libya. The missiles launched by the U.S. were launched with especially the latter in mind, as the targets of the American missile strikes were air defense installations.

The enforcement of a no-fly zone is important for Libya since Gadhafi utilizes his air force to bomb its citizens. Also, other countries, such as France, Britain, Canada and Italy, are taking part in the military operation against Gadhafi. Because of the multilateral approach to the situation, the United States’ involvement in Libya may be very limited. Obama said that no ground troops will be deployed to Libya, and as soon as the other members of the coalition are able, they will take over the main responsibility of the operation.

The call for action also did not come from one of the major powers. Lebanon requested that the UN intervene — with good reason. Gadhafi is a tyrannical leader who has no intention of letting go of power unless forced. No longer must he rely on Libya’s army to carry out the atrocities on his behalf: he has his own private mercenary army. Unless the larger powers step into neutralize Gadhafi, he will continue to kill his people.

As Obama put it, “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” Though I suppose we could do nothing, as some would like, and just wait until this becomes a regret the size of Darfur.

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