An Open Letter to the Left on Libya | The Nation

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The right decision

I am in sympathy with many of the arguments in this article, but going up against a nuclear-armed Soviet Union over tanks in Prague is a bit different than dealing with a Qaddafi using tanks, aircraft and artillery against his people. A war between the Soviet Union and the United States would have been a case of mutually assured destruction. We can be fairly confident that Libya, in some form, the US and the NATO countries will survive this conflict.

Certainly, the emerging governments in Egypt and Tunisia would not be comfortable with a Qaddafi government on their borders. Since his government has a history of state-sponsored terrorism, many countries could feel uncomfortable.

So far, the mandate of the UN to protect civilians has been followed. Air strikes against the Libyan Air Force, tanks and artillery were mounted because they were being used against civilian targets. While air strikes have allowed rebel forces to move against the government, there are no air to ground contacts between NATO and the rebels. This is not a combined operation. NATO announced today that this type of operation was restricted to Libya. Any similar type of operations should be cleared with the UN and any regional political organizations.

While I sometimes differ with the Obama administration, I do believe he had to move very fast to minimize civilian deaths. This was a temporary solution backed by the Arab League and the UN. NATO is now in charge of this conflict. While the United States has no vital interest in Libya, European countries do have vital interests and concerns in North Africa. They also have operational bases close to Libya.

The use of force should always be the last resort, but sometimes you have no choice!