By Amar C. Bakshi
Yesterday, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 by a vote of 10-0 with 5 abstentions, authorizing international military action against Gadhafi forces in Libya. Here's a roundup of what people are saying.
Al Jazeera summarizes the key points of the resolution:
- Demands "the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians".
- Demands that Libyan authorities "take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance".
- Authorizes UN member states "to take all necessary measures ... 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".
- Decides "to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians", but says humanitarian flights and flights authorised by the UN and Arab League can take place.
France, the primary backer of this resolution, along with the U.S. and UK, promised action “soon” to implement the resolution:
François Baroin, a French government spokesman, told RTL radio that airstrikes would come “rapidly,” perhaps within hours, following the United Nations resolution late Thursday authorizing “all necessary measures” to impose a no-flight zone.
But he insisted the military action “is not an occupation of Libyan territory.” Rather, it was designed to protect the Libyan people and “allow them to go all the way in their drive, which means bringing down the Qaddafi regime.”
Benghazi erupted in celebration at news of the resolution’s passage. “We are embracing each other,” said Imam Bugaighis, spokeswoman for the rebel council in Benghazi. “The people are euphoric. Although a bit late, the international society did not let us down.”
Meanwhile, Gadhafi professes to be ready for international action. The Libyan government said:
"Any foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger and civilian and military facilities will become targets of Libya's counterattack The Mediterranean basin will face danger not just in the short term, but also in the long term."
Time.com analyzes the situation:
This sudden U.N. declaration proclaimed that the U.N. alliance would halt Gaddafi loyalists from killing those opposed to his rule by "all necessary measures" – a clear warning that air strikes are likely against tanks and other Libyan military assets on the ground. That means the U.S. and its allies are declaring a "no-drive zone" as well as a no-fly zone in contested areas of the country.
Reactions to the news are mixed. Andrew Sullivan summarizes them expertly over at his blog.
Some hail the move. As Thomspon notes, “U.S. lawmakers who had pushed the U.S. to enter a third war in a Muslim land hailed the U.N.'s action.
"With Gaddafi's forces moving towards Benghazi, we must immediately work with our friends in the Arab League and in NATO to enforce this resolution and turn the tide before it is too late," Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a joint statement. "We must also build a bipartisan consensus here at home to support the President in taking the swift and decisive measures necessary to stop Gaddafi."
Shadi Hamid, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, argues that intervention is necessary:
Having an oil-rich pariah state that could very well return to supporting terrorism and wreaking havoc in the region would be disastrous, creating Iraq part 3 and making it more likely we'd have to intervene sometime further into the future, at much greater cost and consequence. Did we not learn from the quelched Shia uprisings of 1991? Or from standing by idly (or supporting) the military coup that ended Algerian democracy in 1991? The Arab world suffered for the international community's failure to do the right thing.
Some are outright opposed. As Josh Rogin reports over at The Cable, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) opposes military intervention in Libya:
…on the grounds that the nation can't afford it at a time of deep fiscal debt and called on Obama to explain why attacking Libya is in America's national interest. The humanitarian argument just isn't enough, he said.
"We would not like to stand by and see people being shot, but the same argument could be made in Bahrain at present and perhaps in Yemen, so if you have a civil war it's very likely people are going to be out for each other. This debate cannot be totally divorced from the realities of what are the contending issues right here and now."
Others have their doubts. Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security, an Army veteran of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, voiced unease:
"It really does seem like we are going to go to war with another country in the Arabic-speaking world. Incredible. "I should be thankful for the broad international coalition we have put together, and for the fact that a large ground invasion is unlikely, but I mainly just have a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach."
Alex Massie in the UK writes:
Like it or not we are now in it for the long haul. The history of UN-mandated missions does not support the notion that this will be a quick or easy campaign. The UN is still present in Bosnia and Kosovo and it seems quite possible, even if this mission achieves its stated goals that it will be in Libya for years to come. That's probable, surely, even if or perhaps especially if the end result is the partition of Libya. Indeed, a Kosovan-style outcome may now be the best available.
What do you think?