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Libya and Obama's "Humanitarian Intervention"

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It is amazing how the media circus has suddenly shot down on Libya, while Gadhafi is still at large and bitter infightings and manslaughter continue like before. There is no more talk about our "responsibility" to promote democracy there, or our "moral duty" to stop the slaughter of civilian Libyans by pro-Gadhafi armed forces.

The Western powers rushed to enforce a no-fly zone in the middle of March. They boasted loudly that this time (as opposed to the case with the Iraq War) they had won the backing of the Arab League, but the Arab leaders who supported the no-fly zone were the same leaders who suppressed the population in their own backyard and who voted to send in Saudi troops to Bahrain to suppress the democracy movement in Manama.

It is hard to see what the no-fly zone has achieved other than blowing up a few Gadhafi tanks, killing some civilians in the process, and squandering millions upon millions of dollars on this operation. President Obama began this venture with no clear goal in mind. He said Gadhafi himself was not the target and regime change was not the US objective, despite the attack on Gadhafi's residential compound in Tripoli and the news of arming the rebels.


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If the objective was to protect the Libyan civilians, the exact opposite of that was achieved. Gadhafi's army had crushed the rebellion throughout northern Libya, steadily advancing towards the rebel's last stronghold, Banghazi. The Libyan army was only one or two days away from restoring status quo and ending the infightings. The no-fly zone extended the conflict rather than ending the civilian losses. Gadhafi's army was pushed back for a day or two, but they resumed strength and advanced again. So far, Gadhafi has achieved what he desired: to remain in power, only that he had to fight longer, killing more of his people, as well as the Western attack on his army inevitably took innocent lives.

The conflict is now fading from the public mind here in the West, not because Gadhafi is weakened or the democracy movement strengthened, but because the mainstream media has stopped talking about it.

It looks like Washington never learns from its military fiascos regardless of who occupies the Oval Office. In 2003, the stated goal for the Iraq invasion was Saddam's suspected WMD program. But as the UN's Chief Weapon Inspector, Hans Blix, pleaded for more time to prove that Saddam did not possess such capability and it looked like the window of opportunity for a military assault on Iraq could be closing, the Bush Administration rushed to implement its plan without having an open and honest debate about it with the American people.

A similar pattern was repeated in the case of Libya. The Obama Administration hesitated for a long time, but as soon as it looked like Gadhafi's army was about one or two days away from regaining control and the window of opportunity for a military operation on Gadhafi's forces was closing, the Administration rushed to implement the no-fly zone, which only served to prolong the conflict and take more civilian lives.  
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Hamid Karimianpour is the author of Nation Building or Democracy by Other Means, Algora Publishing, 2011.

Karimianpour studied economics and philosophy at the University of Oslo in Norway. He moved to England, where he obtained an MBA degree (more...)
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