Vindication

When President Obama made the decision to support United Nations Security Council and NATO resolutions to intervene in Libya through air support for the Libyan rebels who have risen up against their dictator Mommar Gaddafi, the critics came from both (far) ends of the political spectrum. The nutty Right alternately blamed the President for being too involved and not being involved enough, going in too late and not waiting for a Congressional authorization (i.e. not early enough). The unhinged Professional Left (or as the term has now been coined by TPV, Firebagger Lefty Blogosphere) was ready to impeach the President for doing something imperatively moral and unquestionably legal.

But as the rebels took control of most of the Libyan capital of Tripoli over the weekend, and Gaddafi has gone AWOL, and President Obama pronounced that Gaddafi's rule is at an end, the President's strategy has proven to be the exactly correct one. The President understood that in the movements to democracy in the Middle East, change cannot - and should not - be imposed by outside forces, but the peoples of those countries must themselves forge a path to liberty. But that did not mean that the rest of the world had to sit there and watch the violent suppression of democratic movements. So President Obama called the international community to action, and they acted in unison.

  • The Arab League approved a no-fly zone above Libya to neutralize Gaddafi's air power.
  • The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution approving air strikes against Gaddafi and gave member states and regional organizations the power to enforce it by taking "all necessary measures."
  • The United States proceeds to lead the air assault at the beginning in conjunction with NATO and the European Union. President Obama makes it clear that the US role is limited.
  • Turkey and Romania join NATO action.
  • Within a week, US began stepping back its role as NATO takes charge and takes on on the lion's share of the expenses. Eventually, US transitions to a support role.
  • And today, the Libyan people are marching forward for their own future.
A truly international coalition acted in a determined but limited way not to bring democracy at the barrel of a foreign gun but to disarm the dictator of the weapons to violently repress his own people. Perhaps that is why around the world, people in the peace movement are terming Libya the anti-Iraq. Lots of intellectuals and world leaders have issued statements, but this one stands out for both the eloquence and the career of the man it comes from:
“Libya will go down in history as the anti-Iraq. Iraq was democracy parachuted into a country by a foreign power in a country which hadn’t asked for it. Libya was a rebellion which demanded help from an international coalition led by France, and which will continue now in the reconstruction of the country.”
That quote is from French journalist and intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy. His may not be a name you are familiar with, but Mr. Levy is someone who has covered and written about war and peace since his start in writing about the Nazi occupation of France. He traveled to the Indian subcontinent to cover the war of liberation that Bangladesh fought (with the aide of India) against Pakistan. This man is no push-over, and if anyone knows world conflicts and struggles for liberation, it's him. It has been his life.

This is the vindication of the Libyan people, who are closer to liberation from their tyrant than ever before. This is the vindication of the Libyan rebels. This is the vindication of the Arab Spring. This is the vindication of internationalism, cooperation, and democracy. This is the vindication of a foreign policy leadership and grit, rather than of swagger. This is President Obama's vindication.

UPDATE: Video of the President's speech.



Thank you, Mr. President.