Time to intervene in Libya

Robert C. Johnston.


This was printed in The Australian (‘Time to intervene’), on February 26th, 2011, and then reprinted in The Week, which distills into a concise weekly read the most important news and comment from the world’s media, on March 4th, 2011.

IF ever there was a relatively clear-cut case for UN military intervention, it’s now in Libya. There we see the final vestiges of a hated and brutal regime striking out like a cornered tiger on a people yearning to determine their own future.

time to intervene 1

A demonstrator waves Libya’s former flag in protest against Gaddafi’s reign

Yes, the protesters will probably eventually take control, but at what cost in lives lost? Why can’t we do something to help? Why can’t we stop Muammar Gaddafi’s foreign mercenaries from flooding in to Libya?

Gareth Evans, in his former role as leader of the International Crisis Group, wrote that leaders of states have a responsibility to protect their own people. If they instead allow atrocities to occur, the international community then has the responsibility to intervene, even if it means violating traditional norms of state sovereignty.

In Libya, the UN has an opportunity to fulfil its original mandate, to be a beacon of hope and salvation for an oppressed people.

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