What options do we have on Libya?
In another demonstration of moral and political paralysis, the Obama administration is saying little about the brutal Libyan crackdown and doing even less. Paul Wolfowitz, writing in the Wall Street Journal, suggests tougher action:
The U.S. should come down on the side of the Libyan people--and of our principles and values. The longer the current bloodshed continues, the worse the aftermath will be. The U.S. silence over the last crucial days has been mocked by commentators in the Arab media, who display with relish the 2009 photo of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting with one of Gadhafi's more hideous sons, Mutassim. We will not get much of a hearing in a post-Gadhafi Libya if that is how we continue to be viewed.
A clear statement of U.S. support would be significant in itself. But the situation calls for urgent action, not just improved rhetoric. . . .
The U.S. could be helping directly or encouraging private donations to such efforts, as it did with the tsunami in Indonesia or the earthquake in Haiti.
The U.S. should also be pressing for the suspension of Libya's membership on the U.N. Human Rights Council. It should be investigating credible claims that Libyan embassy officials have threatened Libyan students in the U.S. to force them to attend pro-regime demonstrations in Washington. And it should urgently investigate rumors that cronies of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali are flying mercenaries into Libya. If the rumors are substantiated, the U.S. should work with officials in France, Tunisia and elsewhere to stop such activity immediately.
Paul also recommends the the U.S. work to "break the communications blockade by which the Gadhafi regime is isolating the Libyan people and hiding its latest crimes. Such efforts might include something as simple as providing SIM cards for Libyans who cannot use their phones or who fear that their phones are not secure."
Other foreign policy gurus are equally critical of the administration's inertness. A former Middle East negotiator tells me that the U.S. "should condemn not the violence but the government perpetrating it" and consider going to the U.N. Security Council.
Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute e-mails me:
Have they convened an emergency Security Council meeting?
Have they demanded Qadhafi step down?
Have they frozen Qadhafi and sons' assets or called on others to do so?
Have they imposed any economic measures?
Have they done anything except wait all day and issue a comment at 5 pm?
There are no easy answers, but there are clearly wrong things to do and among them is "just sit there".
Meanwhile, Cliff May of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies tells me, "We'd go further and tell the Libyan armed forces that the West will bomb their airfields if they continue to slaughter their people. Arming the demonstrators also cannot be ruled out. The Libyan government is already blaming the protests on foreign help, and the protesters are facing a life or death struggle. The worst policy would be to encourage the demonstrators without giving them the tools to prevail."
In sum, there is a range of potential measures, but once again the administration is stuck in neutral, seemingly surprised by and unprepared for recent developments. You'd think after a few of these episodes, they'd have developed an effective response. But, no, not this group. For people who castigated the Bush administration and promised "smart diplomacy," they surely haven't demonstrated any prowess of their own.
Posted by: mustangs79 | February 22, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: BobGrinnell | February 22, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: nvjma | February 22, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: K2K2 | February 22, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Lazarus40 | February 22, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: eoniii | February 22, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: aardunza | February 22, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: aardunza | February 22, 2011 2:23 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | February 22, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: aardunza | February 22, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Shingo1 | February 22, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Shingo1 | February 22, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: aj1111 | February 22, 2011 8:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: localnet | February 24, 2011 4:12 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: localnet | February 24, 2011 4:15 AM | Report abuse