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Tag Archives: Meghan O’Sullivan
There is no question that Libya would be better off without Qaddafi. The more poignant question is whether his removal warrants more extensive use of American power and action – and whether the United States is willing to bear further responsibility for what comes after Qaddafi.
Just weeks into the intervention, the lack of clear goals is already muddying the waters and further complicating an already complex situation. Most Americans, and presumably nearly all Libyans, interpreted President Obama’s statement that it is time for Qaddafi to go not as an indication of the president’s personal preferences, but as a declaration of U.S. policy. President Obama is not the first U.S. president to call for a regime’s removal, but to be unwilling to commit extensive U.S. resources to the purpose. Nor is he the first U.S. president to hold a more ambitious goal toward a recalcitrant regime than the United Nations or U.S. allies. President Clinton made regime change an explicit American objective vis-à-vis Iraq in the 1990s, even while the international community was focused on disarmament. President Reagan, for a time, openly called for regime change in Libya in the 1980s, later softening this stance.
But President Obama’s disconnect between rhetoric and actions is likely harder for Americans to process, given that the United States and its allies are already involved openly and militarily in a hot civil war. Under these circumstances, it is harder for the Obama administration to embrace the goal of regime change, but to be unwilling to do more to advance it in the face of what many perceive as open opportunities to do so. Some people will see the Obama administration as already half-pregnant with the Libyan opposition fetus. Continue reading