After weeks of delay, the U.N. Security Council authorized the use of force in Libya against Muammar Gaddafi!
Using the analogy of a warehouse fire which is in no way trying to trivialize the situation, it’s almost as if the inferno in the picture above had been raging for days. Only now, when the building had already been reduced to a shell, was the fire department called in.
There is still much debate in this country (Let allah Sort It Out: US Should Stay Out of Libya) and around the world over whether there should be any outside intervention in Libya to help one extremist group (Libyan rebels) defeat another (Gaddafi).
However, if a decision by the U.N. Security Council to authorize the use of force in Libya to “protect” civilians and prevent the massacre of those who opposed Gaddafi was on the table, why delay it until the point was possibly already moot?
“… U.S. officials said military action was preferable out of fear that, should Col. Gadhafi remain in power, he would slaughter those who had turned against him and perhaps return to supporting international terrorism…” (WSJ)
While the outcome of a coalition use of force in Libya is unknown, Gaddafi has had weeks to put down the rebels attempt to take him out and weeks to kill civilians.
Is this just one more example of the U.N. getting to the party just a little bit too late?
Some of the main points in the Resolution (Guardian)
* The resolution expresses the UN’s “grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence, and the heavy civilian casualties”, condemns “the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and summary executions” and says the attacks against civilians “may amount to crimes against humanity” and pose a “threat to international peace and security”.
* A no-fly zone is “an important element for the protection of civilians as well as the safety of the delivery of humanitarian assistance and a decisive step for the cessation of hostilities in Libya”.
* It “demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians” and “that the Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law … and take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance”.
* It authorises UN member states “to take all necessary measures [notwithstanding the previous arms embargo] to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.
* It requests the co-operation of the Arab League member states in the previous measure.
* It decides to “establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians”, exempting humanitarian flights, and authorises member states and Arab League nations “acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban on flights”.