March 21st, 2011
08:48 AM ET

Why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003

By Peter Bergen, CNN

First, the Obama administration was handed a gift by the Arab League, which in its more than six-decade history has garnered a well-earned reputation as a feckless talking shop, but unusually took a stand one week ago by endorsing a no-fly zone over Libya. That endorsement put the Arab League way out in front of the Obama administration, which was then dithering about whether to do anything of substance to help the rebels fighting Gadhafi.

The unexpected action by the Arab League gave the administration the impetus and diplomatic cover to then go to the United Nations Security Council to secure a broad resolution endorsing not only a no-fly zone, but also allowing member states to "take all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya.

This U.N. resolution is reminiscent of the one that President George H.W. Bush secured in November 1990, which gave Iraq six weeks to withdraw from Kuwait following Hussein's invasion of that country. The U.N. resolution in 1990 similarly empowered states to use "all necessary means" to force Iraq out of Kuwait if Hussein ignored the deadline.

The similarities do not end there. The coalition that massed to drive Hussein out of Kuwait involved significant forces from major Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. So too the Libyan no-fly zone will be enforced by Qatar, along with western powers such as France and the U.K.

This is all quite in contrast to George W. Bush's ineffectual attempts to gather international support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. There was no U.N. resolution explicitly authorizing the use of military force against Hussein, and no Muslim countries participated in the American invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Read more over here.

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Topics: Libya • Military • United Nations

soundoff (One Response)
  1. j. von hettlingen

    Libya and Iraq, what's different? Not only are the two cases different, they have a common denominator too: internal and regional conflicts. In Libya there was an uprising and the ensuing civil war. In Kuwait there was a foreign invasion. Yet in both cases, the U.S. and its Allies get involved. It's true, that anti-american resentments are hardly visible during the democratisation movement right across the region from North Africa to the Middle East this Spring, because the protestors need the Americans to get rid of their rulers. Once new governments are set up, their people would bear a grudge against the Americans for helping the incumbents to power. There is still a cultural barriere between the two worlds that whatever each side does, is never good for the other.

    March 21, 2011 at 9:30 am | Reply

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