Sunday, February 27, 2011

Should the UN stop the war in Libya?

I have one question, Should the western world through the United Nations or the EU intervene more than just through sanctions? Muammar Gaddafi has attacked his citizens with snipers, armed militias with automatic weapons from other countries, bombs from planes, artillery and numerous other destructive technologies all against civilians who pose no violent threat. Likely several thoasand men, women and children have been wantonly wasted away for the whim of a insane dictator.
So if it is imminent that the regime will fall and the people of Libya will no longer support him as the ruler, then why can't the UN or US military intervene directly and help stop the loss of more unnecessary human lives. Or to some degree have our past failures in Africa, notably in Somalia or the reluctance to subsequently intervene in Rwanda, have combined to limit the degree the West is willing to commit to intervention.
So suppose that the UN or the African Union sent in a military force it would be soon a huge issue of Sovereignty, if they were able to beat back the remainder of Quadafi's army, did he violate any international territories beyond Libya, but he is still not protecting the citizens of his nation, which does in part dissolve Quadafi's claim to rule. At the very least the United Nations should help in the elections. Still the AU should help stop the needless killing as well.

DO you think it is realistic that a military force could intervene and help or would it interfere with the states sovereignty and the rights of the citizens to choose a destiny for their nation (As was the case in Iraq or Japan, where we had great command on who wrote the constitution and granted them military protection.)?
Can Libya not be helped by other neighbors also in revolution like Egypt and Tunisia, both nations that are adjacent to the county in transition?
Finally, if there becomes evidence that a genocide does occur out of the Western Worlds failure to act are we held responsible by the UNDHR or because we never committed to helping them we have not culpability?


  1. As with many such matters of international politics, a clear gap exists between the moral merits of the situation and what can realistically be expected to happen. The UN only has as much power to to enforce its edicts as the leading nations give it (this is precisely why the exclusive nature of the permanent seats on the Security Council makes sense, unfair as it may be in the abstract); it's no accident that the only full-scale wars fought under UN auspices (Korea and the Gulf War) were American-led.

    It's not clear that such massive involvement would be in the interest of any of the nations that would be called upon to pony up. For one thing, Western nations are already engaged in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the potential drawbacks of intervention in yet another Muslim nation are obvious. Moreover, the transition to a post-Gadaffi Libya will be a fraught and complex process; this is precisely why Senator John McCain's recent call for arming the Libyan opposition is frankly disturbing to me; we have no idea who will be running the country next week.

    While there are certainly steps (humanitarian aid,freezing of the regime's finances and diplomatic contacts, and perhaps even the imposition of a no-fly zone) that can in should be taken by other states, the decisive action that would be necessary to totally ensure the security of the Libyan population is probably beyond the means of the UN and its members, or what is the same thing, beyond their political will. Given the potential unintended consequences of such an intervention, the jury is still out on whether this is necessarily a bad thing.

  2. I think Patrick's response to this post had a pretty good argument for the amount of involvement that the US or UN should have in the Libyan opposition. I think that he is right that massive involvement is dangerous, due to the fact that the country is so unstable right now. However, this unstable environment has lead to massive amounts of death and destruction, and personally I do have an emotional reaction to the conflict. As a person instinctively I think all necessary means should be used to stop the violence, but at the same time understand that this is not always an immediate possibility. I think the UN should at least do something however - like Patrick said - send humanitarian aid, freeze the regime's finances, etc.

  3. The US would look bad if it did not intervene in Libya. Arguing that we are a “protector” or “defender” of human rights and democracy was our reason for intervening in Iraq. Would the US not be hypocritical for standing to the side and letting the situation conclude without interference? Our reputation would be ruined for not intervening. If we do choose to do nothing, countries around the world would argue that the US only acts in situations that would ultimately benefit the nation. It would be safer to take some sort of action instead of risking our “image.”

  4. I agree with Hannah that this situation definitely invokes an emotional reaction. Gaddafi is obviously a crazy person and should not be in charge of an entire country. This being said, I think that it would be hard to argue that the US should use military force without a public outcry from the people of Libya. I am not up to date on the situation, so I don’t know what, if anything, the Libyan people are saying, but without their consent, military intervention doesn’t seem like the best option. Of course, it is often difficult to gauge public opinion when freedoms of speech are restricted.

  5. Gaddafi, regardless of his mental capacity is entitled to the use of military force in the face of a clear national security threat. If you are of the other opinion, then we're looking at a civil war and intervention is not a viable option. The UN should have mediated before this escalated, the fact that they have not show's their capacity - or lack of - for action. North Africa cannot afford further destabilization, if troop are to be deployed, let them be to aid the current regime for the sake of global economic recovery.

  6. Now it appears that a civil war is afoot, but from the title you can see it appears to be a strange experience for this reporter:

  7. Let's be clear. War does not occur without human rights violations. Sad but probably true. That does not mean outside influence helps in the long run. We can look at our efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc.

    Civil war or revolution is not always bad for a nation's long term morality. Was the US civil war all bad? The cause was noble and just. We didn't need outside influence. We had to settle the issue of slavery by ourselves. Sometimes outside influence keeps the nation from effectively settling the score on their own terms.

    There is a huge differnce between human rights violations that might occur during a revolution and atrocities such as genocide or ethnic cleansing. The US and UN need to get it right. There are times to intervene and times to let nations solve their own problems. Libya needs monitoring, and Obama is right to utter strong condemnations. I don't think it is time for intervention from I what I am reading.


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