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      Obama Should Tell Qaddafi to Go

      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...]

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      Reader Comments (3)

      There’s a nice discussion of the issues and options regarding “humanitarian intervention” at the Jadaliyya blog by Asli Bali and Ziad Abu-Rish here:

      For a principled discussion of humanitarian intervention from the perspective of philosophy of law and legal theory, see Allen Buchanan’s book, Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination: Moral Foundations for International Law (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

      See too:
      · Arend, Anthony Clark and Robert J. Beck. International Law and the Use of Force: Beyond the UN Charter Paradigm. New York: Routledge, 1993.
      · Chatterjee, Deen K. and Don E. Scheid, eds. Ethics and Foreign Intervention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
      · Chesterman, Simon. Just War or Just Peace? Humanitarian Intervention and International Law. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
      · Fletcher, George P. and Jens David Ohlin. Defending Humanity: When Force is Justified and Why. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
      · Fox, Gregory H. Humanitarian Occupation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
      · Greenwood, Christopher. Humanitarian Intervention: Law and Policy. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001.
      · Harriss, John, ed. The Politics of Humanitarian Intervention. London: Pinter, 1995.
      · Holzgrefe, J.L. and Robert O. Keohane, eds. Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal, and Political Dilemmas. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
      · Jokic, Aleksander, ed. Humanitarian Intervention: Moral and Philosophical Issues. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 2003.
      · Tesón, Fernando R. Humanitarian Intervention: An Inquiry into Law and Morality. Ardsley, NY: Transnational, 3rd ed., 2005.
      · Welsh, Jennifer M., ed. Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

      February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick S. O'Donnell

      Steve Negus has also weighed in on the question of interventon at The Arabist:

      February 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick S. O'Donnell

      Man, it's too bad Chavez is supporting Ghadafi, just as Chavez supported the Chinese gov. when that Chinesedissident was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. All these disgusting positions gives the New Left a BAD BAD name, and justifiably so. I can't figure out Chavez

      March 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
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