Global attention has now focused to Libya, where clashes between antigovernment and progovernment groups over the past week turned brutally violent, leaving more than 200 dead. Muammar Qadhafi, the country's leader since he led a largely peaceful coup in 1969, has been unwilling to follow the recent examples of Tunisian and Egyptian leaders, who resigned as a result of pressure from popular protests.
In the wake of the Libyan government’s crackdown against protesters, the Obama administration is once again in the delicate diplomatic position of deciding how much to intervene. So far, the president has stayed out of the spotlight regarding Libya, though some expect a statement from him today. Yesterday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement “strongly condemning the violence in Libya.” She said, “The government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly.”
But Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin calls the Obama administration’s relatively silent response “another demonstration of moral and political paralysis,” and criticizes the U.S. government for not creating an effective plan for such predicaments after other similar episodes in the Middle East. “Once again the administration is stuck in neutral, seemingly surprised by and unprepared for recent developments.”
Republican lawmakers largely shied away from criticizing the president during the Egypt crisis, but this time Sens. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Jon Kyl of Arizona released a statement urging Obama to speak up:
Reports indicate that Qaddafi is now engaged in a brutal attempt to maintain his 40 year dictatorship. The United States should not remain silent in the face of Qaddafi's egregious violations of human rights. We urge the President to speak out clearly in support of the Libyan people in their struggle against the Qaddafi dictatorship.
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