After the turmoil and revolutions that have been brewing in African and Middle Eastern nations it was only a matter of time until the U.S. became formally involved somehow. On March 19 President Obama, without putting a vote toward congress, authorized Operation Odyssey Dawn and over 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched by U.S. and United Kingdom ships against coastal Libyan air defenses and communication posts. This would be the first stage of a United Nations no-fly zone operation aimed at preventing Libyan forces from attacking its own citizens.Obama’s decision to authorize and remain a part of a joint-NATO operation is an arguably dangerous path to tread. Now facing the dawn of his re-election campaign, a military withdrawal from Iraq, continued operations in Afghanistan, is it appropriate to have joined a new fray with no end in sight?
Professor Jonathan Spiro of Castleton State College says he couldn’t imagine the U.S. sitting by and allowing Muammar Qaddafi, self-imposed leader of Libya, to kill his own people
“Personally I support intervention because unlike other current conflicts this is being done on humanitarian grounds,” said Spiro. He reasoned that Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton could have “just forgot” to consult Congress “in the heat of the moment.”
The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 March 17 that authorized member states “to take all necessary measures.to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamhariya, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”
The resolution condemned “the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions” made by loyal Qaddafi forces against civilians in the wake of uprisings throughout the country.
“I think we have to be very careful to do what Obama and the U.N. said they were going to do,” said Spiro. “We cannot get into a third Muslim country.”
Military response was quick by French, U.S., and U.K. forces due to reports of attacks against rebel fighters within the port city of Benghazi despite a declaration of ceasefire made by forces of Qaddafi’s regime.
“He probably did have the authority,” said Castleton professor Melisse Pinto, referring to Obama’s consent of military intervention.
Pinto said that though Obama promised no presence of ground troops on Libyan soil, she thinks America will eventually deploy troops. Due to the quagmire of battles throughout Libya and the impossibility of ousting Qaddafi politically Pinto recognizes only one course of action.
“Qaddafi could retreat and hold them back,” Pinto said, “What can be done to break the stalemate other than put in ground troops? The rebels, I don’t think they’re strong enough.”
Students too have seen the intervention as necessary.
“They did the same thing with the war in Iraq,” said junior Taylor Pagnam. “It’s something Obama needed to get involved in. No matter if it’s he had permission or not, it’s his decision.”
“It’s necessary,” said freshman Josh Schellenberg. “He needed to. I hate that it’s a dog eat dog world.”
Others, however, saw the escalation of these situations to be an outlet for more American intervention.
“I feel like we would never know when to call it quits,” said junior Nicole White. “We’re pushing the limits and pushing them too far. We don’t need to do this anymore.”
In a letter released April 14 and written by President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicholas Sarkozy declared, “Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power.”
“Today,” the letter added, “NATO and our partners are acting in the name of the United Nations with an unprecedented international legal mandate. But it will be the people of Libya, not the U.N., who choose their new constitution, elect their new leaders, and write the next chapter in their history. Britain, France and the United States will not rest until the United Nations Security Council resolutions have been implemented and the Libyan people can choose their own future.”
The outcome in Libya is as hazy and indecipherable as it was before and as the battles rush across Libya and other nations in the Middle East only time will tell the outcome.
“To residents in the Middle East they know they’re in a historical time, they’re changing the course of history,” said Spiro. “The people didn’t rise up in Libya because of us. Because of democracy.