The desire to "do something", while understandable, is woefully misguided absent clarity of thought, any sense of the stakes involved, the interests that may be harmed out of the commendable desire to see a dictator overthrown and a people, yearning to be free, have their wishes granted. That the world is a messy place often makes our real choices unpalatable. The course the UN has placed in front of those who wish to interfere in the Libyan Civil War is fraught with peril all the way around. Just consider Qaddafi's history of retaliation for international interference in his country. No doubt, at some point, the French, or the British, or whoever else gets involved in what will no doubt be seen as a debacle, will be perplexed when there is some kind of violent response against them and/or their interests or people.
I heard an interview yesterday with Secretary of State Clinton. Steve Inskeep of NPR read a question from a gentleman who wondered when the United States would do something. I thought Sec. Clinton's response was spot on. That it seems inadequate to the moment is due, in large part, to an ongoing belief the the United States, being the biggest player in the planetary schoolyard, has both the ability and the responsibility, to set things aright. The persistence of the belief in the benevolence of American interference in the affairs of other states is a marvel, really, of hope over reality. The UN will prove no better, and perhaps spectacularly worse.
I grieve for the lost promise of Libyan freedom. What anyone else could have done, let alone should have done, continues to be the same as it always was - not a damn thing.
UPDATE: I'll be honest. I never saw this coming.
Muammar Gaddafi's government said it was declaring a unilateral ceasefire in its offensive to crush Libya's revolt, as Western warplanes prepared to attack his forces.Things that make you go, "Hmm . . ."
"We decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations," Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa told reporters in Tripoli on Friday, after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing military action.
UPDATE II: After some thought, and reports that fighting continues, I have to say I am less surprised now. At this point, Qaddafi stops fighting, and talks about talking. Except, really, he holds all the cards. His ground forces can consolidate. The opposition, such as remains of it, sits huddled in and around Benghazi. The talking about talking breaks down, and now the Libyan Army is ready to go. And, surprise, surprise! It doesn't need planes. Its tanks, its artillery - all in place. The troops, arranged properly and briefed thoroughly, move in.
This is a situation that wholly favors Qaddafi.