Rarely, if ever, do I advocate U.S. intervention in the affairs of other nations. But President Obama should be supported if he calls for Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi to step down and asks the United Nations to intervene, if necessary.
There are two criteria that matter to me. The first is whether the leader in question is unleashing official violence against a popular movement, as was the case in China during Tienanmen, Chile’s armed forces against Salvador Allende, and Mexico during the Tlotelcolco massacre when U.S. strategic partnerships outweighed the value of human rights. The second is taking the opportunity to clear the name of the United States after decades of being sullied by spending our tax dollars and reputation on murderous regimes.
An immediate declaration that the Libyan regime has gone too far, coupled with a call for global support of the Libyan resistance, will have a serious impact on the balance of forces and be long remembered when people, including our own children, ask which side we were on during this rising of the Arab nation.
Declaring such a principle – that the U.S. will not support dictators and monarchs who open fire on their own people – should be the guide to policy in other countries in the weeks ahead.
President Obama is quoted as seeing in the Egyptian revolution an opportunity for an alternative narrative to that of al Qaeda, that peaceful mass democratic uprisings are possible against Arab dictatorships. Here is his chance to prove it. [More to come...]