The Obama administration has been criticized for being too cautious in response to the latest outbreak of Middle East turmoil, but now the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western nations are contemplating whether and how to intervene militarily in Libya, where 41-year leader Muammar Qadhafi’s regime has been violently attacking protesters who have called for the end of his reign. Already, many of Qadhafi’s assets abroad have been frozen and his travel has been restricted. World leaders have condemned the violence and called for Libya’s leader to step down. Military warships and aircraft have been moved closer to the country. But is it enough? Should the West do more?
“Nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyans,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday at the U.N. But she was quick to add that Libyans will be responsible for shaping their own destiny. One option on the table for the West is to institute a no-fly zone, putting fighter jets on patrol to shoot down any Libyan planes sent to kill rebels. [See photos of 15 major post-Cold War uprisings.]
Officials from the United Kingdom and Australia have indicated they would support a no-fly zone, but Turkey, China, Russia, France, and Iran have expressed concern about military intervention. “This can’t even be talked about,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “It’s unthinkable.” [See a roundup of political cartoons on the Middle East protests.]
A Guardian blogger writing from Tripoli under the pseudonym Muhammad min Libya believes a no-fly zone may work, but that is as far as the West should go. Air strikes or on-the-ground forces will only bring harsher violence to a revolution that should “be ended by those who first started it: the people of Libya,” he says. He continues:
So as the calls for foreign intervention grow, I'd like to send a message to western leaders: Obama, Cameron, Sarkozy. This is a priceless opportunity that has fallen into your laps, it's a chance for you to improve your image in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims. Don't mess it up. All your previous programmes to bring the east and the west closer have failed, and some of them have made things even worse. Don't start something you cannot finish, don't turn a people's pure revolution into some curse that will befall everyone. ... Let us just live as neighbours on the same planet. Who knows, may be I as your neighbour might one day show up at your doorstep to happily shake your hand.
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