March 18th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

What the UN resolution means

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.

“All necessary measures” is diplomatic code for military action. Read the full resolution text here.

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.”

The rebels rejoiced at news of the resolution’s passage.  CNN and NYT report:

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." 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?

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Bianca

    Fools rush in....

    March 18, 2011 at 10:10 am | Reply
    • gwt5319

      Why does the world expect the US to handle every issue?

      The Royal Saudi Air Force has F-16s and attack helicopters so why wouldn't they take the lead
      and implement the "no-fly" zone?

      March 18, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Reply
      • itsme

        Because the Saudi Royals are fearing there own position as leaders of there country.

        March 19, 2011 at 7:49 am |
  2. Bianca

    The reality is, US, UK and France managed to get 7 non-permanent UN SC votes, and the remaining 5 decided to let them go ahead by abstaining. The five that declined the honors are: Russia, China, Brazil, India and Germany. One has to wonder. Federal government is so fiscally in the hole, that it is cutting life support to all fifty states. And those have to cut teachers, firemen, police, infrastructure repair, health care, pensions. Yet, US, UK and France seem to have money to throw away on projects that are of no real interest to the security of US. Yes, some oil companies may be excited about the oil of east Libya - but these are the companies that do not pay taxes in US. Who is PAYING for this now?

    March 18, 2011 at 10:25 am | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      Thank you,Bianca. You said it all.

      March 18, 2011 at 11:01 am | Reply
    • Clinton

      Bianca, you're not very smart are you? it's unlikely that the US will endure any large expenses in order to enfore a no-fly zone in an area that we have forces nearby. Aside from that, it's really cute that you would have no problem allowing thousands if not tens of thousands of people to be massacred by a madman while you watch it all unfold on CNN KNOWING we could have done something to stop it. But it doesn't matter to you because what? they don't look like you? don't speak the same language or worship the same way you do? How is allowing thousands of people die when we could easily stop it okay with you? You're no better than Gadhafi. Good thing there were smarter people than you around when hitler was killing millions... people could have sat back and watched that too you know? ...... you're a sick human being.

      March 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Reply
    • Catherine Enuka

      What are you insinuating? That there shouldn't have been support from the US and thousands should be allowed to die simply because you are not one of them? Because you don't have folks there? Because you want your own comfort at the expense of others? We live not for ouselves only Bianca, but for others.

      March 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
    • Adamson

      Bianca-what a disgrace you are for such thoughtlessness and selfish welfarism you and people like you are quick to mouth all the time. Wonder if you would care for an animal under severe or adverse circumstance after all it has got nothing to do with you. What a waste of space you are. I have been gravely disturbed by the silence of the world to the plight of the good people of Libya and nothing has made me more glad and happy than the decision of the US, UK and France to lay it all down for a fellow human in need especially when people who ought to protect you have turned against and are sworn to massacre you. To who or where do you turn to. God Bless America, France and the UK. As for the BRIC i.e. Brazil, Russian, India and China countries, may your own time of need come quickly and may there be none to listen or even raise a hand to help you because when others were in need cried you shut your eyes and would not help when it was in the power of your hand to do so.

      March 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      @ Bianca.Sorry Bianca about these people criticizing you here. I doubt that any of these lemmings ever got past the 5th grade in school and now they envy you your intelligence. Their are ignorant people everywhere and that's why there's so much support for yet another useless and unnecessary war!

      March 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Reply
    • gerry

      Bianca I could not agree with you more. It is not for humanitarian reason why this 3 big thirsty for oil is leading the military action. One reason alone – OIL. None of these superpowers did anything to save millions of lives purged in Cambodia by Pol Pot.

      March 22, 2011 at 12:23 am | Reply
  3. Onesmallvoice

    Now I suppose that we're going to get a lot of "Sieg Heils" over this "No-fly" zone from a lot of warmongering fools who probably never finished high school. Some say that ignorance is bliss,but I say ignorance is irritating!!!

    March 18, 2011 at 11:06 am | Reply
  4. Brad

    When people are killed by army's with no way to protect themselves, I for one applaud the UN and resolve that life is more important than money. Mr. Lugar shoud soundly defeated next election. Republican can count their money in the saftey of their homes. Try counting it in Lybia with rockets going off over head.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  5. Aregularguy

    I somehow doubt the civilians in Libya see the merit in any arugement that is predicated on US fiscal woes or accusing Obama of being warmongering. The fact is the international community is behind this action and no matter the amount of support the US will bear, it is the right thing to do for the innocents that are being killed to keep a madman in power.

    March 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • LarryKegel(USAMY)

      I wonder just how much bribery has been going on behind the scenes at the UN to get this resolution passed. The only thing that's certain is that it was done with US tax dollars!

      March 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Reply
  6. Peaceful2011

    Let France and UK use air-strike shoot down all dependent in Tripoli . Let people in Tripoli stay away from Gadhafi. The US will use 100 helicoter with special force direct to building of Gadhafi and takes him out. How much it will cost? How fast it will over?

    March 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  7. jeff

    STOP. Do not become militarily involved in Libya. That is an internal affair with the Libyan Army and armed rebels. Do not put our military in a no-win, no shooting back, war. It should be complete conquest or nothing. No more Vietnams, no Bosnias, no Iraq, no Afghanistans.

    March 18, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  8. Clinton

    I applaud the UN and the countries dedicated to restoring peace and assisting the overthrow of Gadhafi in Lybia and stopping the Massacre. It is not always the best idea to get involved in something like this, but people don't forget... We were once a people struggling to overthrow a dictator.. without France acknowledging our right to exist as an independent country and throwing military support behind us... we WOULD NOT have become a country. There are times when it is necessary to step in and this is one of them, without an international presence, Gadhafi will go through this country slowly but surely massacring Tens of thousands of citizens that he considers traitors... I do not feel that i could sit by... with our Military already so close to the situation, and not do anything... just watch these people die needlessly because we didn't want to get our hands dirty... i'm sorry... for those of you that think it's okay to do that... i think you're no better than Gadhaffi himself...

    March 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • Onesmallvoice

      You seem to forget the simple fact that our military has no right to be in Libya for any reason whatsoever nor do we have the right to impose our will on Libya. Unfortunately,through their own arrogance and self righteousness,most Americans feel the same way you do.

      March 18, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • gerry

      Clinton. I am Asian. Where were the 3 superpowers when Pol Pot was killling millions of Cambodians. No oil in that countrly so UN and U.S. and France and UK has no reason to be there. You are such hypocrite.

      March 22, 2011 at 12:34 am | Reply
  9. Al Bledsoe

    The American people should declare war on Libya, not the president, and not the pundits on 24-hour news. The 24-hour news can report on what is happening with a revolt in N. African countries and other countries in the middle east, Indonesia and elsewhere. Reporting, and not evoking war is what journalism is all about. The president can poll the US Congress who can ask their constituents whether the US should declare war on a country. Then according to the constitution the US Congress declares war and the president commands the engagement.

    The American people may be prudent in analyzing the cost of treasure and blood that the declaration of war is untimely and unaffordable when compared to assured outcome and post-war management costs. and thus decide not to declare war.

    March 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Reply
  10. j. von hettlingen

    The Security Council needs to be reformed. Times are different now. Only in that arena do France and Britain, two of the five permanent members have a say. Elsewhere in the world, NO. They dwell on their past. There are other countries that emerge and should have a permanent seat at the Security Council as well.

    March 19, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply
    • LarryKegel(USAMY)

      Quite true j. von hettlingen,quite true. The U.S.,Great Britain and France have become the world's great bullies of today and that makes me sick!!!

      March 19, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Reply
      • Troll killer

        Larry Kegel turned 5 today.
        Happy Birthday Larry

        March 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  11. chuks

    It is hard not to feel the need to stop despots like Ghaddafi fom seizing power via a military coup; staying in power 30 years and running; and eventually handing over to his spoilt son – with little or no ultimate benefit to the Libyan people. The fact that this kind of abuse happens in many Arab and African countries – not to mention North Korae – is food for thought. You cannot blame it entirely on religion, but that is part of the problem. The fact is that there are far too many ignorant people in the world who continue to hero-worship otheer humans a million years after the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
    My hope is that the events in the middle east these several months would provide a watershed moment for real political discourse. There cannot be freedom and progress anywhere in the world unless a good number of the people are enlightened.
    The world needs to get to a point when despots cannnot hide their ill-gotten wealth after plundering their people. That would be the second Age of Enlightenment.
    For now, selective military action in Libya is just a band-aid solution. Which country is next: Soudi Arabia? Bahrain? Cameroon? It is hard to feel enthusiastic about that!

    March 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Reply
  12. chuks

    To Clinton: Until the laststatenment on that blog, I thought that was Ms Hilary Clinton herself.

    Seriiously, it is hard for the rest of the world to step back and watch the reprisals that would follow if Ghaddafi retains power. Tens of thousands of people would be killed, for sure. The scariest part of the conflict is listening to Ghaddafi's son. He shows no sensitivity or political acumen. He sounds blood-thirsty, to me.

    March 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  13. sporadotimes



    He is ready to act after country was already subjected to civil war and burned to the ground...after he implemented via United Nations prohibition of air space usage allowing use exclusively to Gaddafi's air attacks and destruction of rebel army while at the same time prohibiting assistance from already liberated neighboring countries..and why !? Because rebel army didn't tolerate Jewmerican corruption and therefore rebels needed to be destroyed to extend when those will seat at negotiation table with Jewmerica. LIBERATORS WILL ENSLAVE REBELS BY PUSHING FORWARD GREAT ISRAEL'S AGENDA AND OWN OIL $$

    March 19, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  14. dialogue

    Why not step in through soft power – talking as a peaceful human does, I worry about the strike would become a mess war as history always repeated – the Irag War more killings at the end ...It is really sad why people have to keep SUFFERINGS....

    March 20, 2011 at 9:48 am | Reply
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