From civilian uprising, to states intervening
The United States and allies intervened for the first time in an Arab state that is in the midst of the new revolution.
“Why did this happen? Who will benefit?” And furthermore, “Should the US have intervened?”
US was Needed
By Maggie Konstantine
On March 19, a little more than a month after the rise of the Libyan people against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the United States and its allies launched missiles targeting government
air defense sites. After UN sanctions and arms embargos were issued, Gaddafi continued his military campaign, killing his own people. As a result, this necessitated U.S. and international intervention.
For over 40 years Gaddafi has dictated his people with harsh rule of law and terror, allegedly committing numerous human rights violations and murdering many of his opponents.
When the Libyan people gained the courage to collectively oppose the ruler in February, his grip on power tightened to maintain control of the country. CNN reported Gaddafi had cut off supplies, destroyed mosques, and used military weapons against his people.
Civilians were being murdered, unrest grew, and instability threatened the region.
It is clear that the U.S. and the international community needed to intervene, in order to prevent war and further civilian casualties, as well as curb instability that would threaten
newly forming governments in the region.
On March 17, the Security Council passed UN Resolution 1973 authorizing member states to take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.
With an international mandate, the support of many countries, and the ability to stop mass casualties, overflows of refugees, and threats to democracy, the U.S. made the decision
to militarily intervene to support the Libyan people in their fight for freedom.
U.S. intervention was, however, carefully considered before acting. With memories of genocide in Bosnia and U.S. soldiers lost in Somalia close in mind, the decision to intervene in the conflict of another country is difficult.
Ultimately, U.S. intervention was authorized by President Obama, and in his speech on March 28, he deemed U.S. intervention crucial in order to protect the people from Gaddafi’s forces, deny the regime arms, aid the opposition, bring stability to the region,
and give power to the people.
Gradual steps were taken leading up to the military intervention of the U.S., with sanctions being issued first, followed by an arms embargo, along with various oral warnings from President Obama for Gaddafi to relinquish power.
After the first air strikes took place on March 19, and several others taking place in the following days, advances were made by the rebel forces.
According to CNN, rebels were able to take control of Brega, an important oil town, and Gaddafi’s forces retreated from the city of Ras Lanuf. Though it appears rebel forces are
slowly advancing, uncertainty still looms in Libya and many are waiting to see if the U.S. and her allies made the right choice.
As the international community waits to see how the next weeks will unfold, many are wondering why the U.S. chose to intervene now. Why not in Egypt or Tunisia? Why Libya?
The U.S. has had a long and turbulent relationship with Libya. While Libya and Egypt have both had long reigning and often criticized regimes, the U.S. has historically had a strong
and ongoing relationship with the Egyptian government as one of its allies. This is not the case with Libya. Before 2006, diplomatic ties had been fractured with Libya for over 20 years, with the regime being accused of corruption and having ties with terrorist
activity, including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988.
Many argue that Libya’s conflict is not a threat to international peace and that the U.S. is in violation of the UN Charter.
However, with Gaddafi’s history of the unpredictable and inhumane use of violence, one could also argue that he is indeed a very serious threat to international peace, and U.S. intervention will help to alleviate that threat.
Contact Maggie Konstantine at email@example.com.