News / USA

Libya a Key Test of Obama's Use of Military Power

President Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House to discuss the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Oct. 20, 2011.
President Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House to discuss the death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, Oct. 20, 2011.

In a speech on March 28, President Barack Obama said the United States had a responsibility to help protect civilians threatened by Moammar Gadhafi, and that American interests and values were at stake in Libya.

The military campaign that began last March with U.S. cruise missiles and French aircraft strikes soon became a NATO-directed operation, and a key test of his administration's determination to spread the burden of military action among key allies and partners.

From the start, Obama made clear U.S. ground troops would not be involved; he drew a distinction between situations where military force was required, such as Afghanistan, and those where U.S. interests were not directly challenged.

But the president said the U.S has an obligation to act against threats to "common humanity and common security." He said U.S. policy was based on key principles, including support for universal rights and governments responsive to the aspirations of their people.

"For the region, today's events prove once again that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to end," Obama said Thursday, recalling these principles in the White House Rose Garden. "Across the Arab world, citizens have stood up to claim their rights. Youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship. And those leaders who try to deny their human dignity will not succeed."

Longtime Middle East expert Aaron David Miller has been an advisor to six U.S. secretaries of state and is now with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

He says events in Libya vindicate the president's decision to make a "relatively low-cost American investment" that allowed Libyans to take the lead in ousting Gadhafi, but broader implications remain unclear.

"We cannot do in Syria what we have done in Libya [or in] other Arab states," he said. "The Saudis, the Jordanians [who] will ultimately will be faced also with demands for greater political reform, greater respect for human rights [and] transparency."

As for any Obama "doctrine" regarding use of military force, Miller says it will continue to be difficult to apply a single model to all countries in the Arab Spring.

Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations has a similar perspective that emphasizes the inherent geopolitical complexities such a decision entails.

"People will start debating whether or not we should be playing this role in getting rid of dictators, but they will soon find that any such policy is fraught with contradictions," he said. "The Saudis are dictators. Are we going to go in and help to overthrow them? Not a chance."

Exactly how much credit Americans will give Obama for current success of his Libya strategy remains to be seen. Miller says many Americans are focused on economic problems at home.

"There was a reckoning with Osama bin Laden," said Miller. "It did not marginally let alone significantly alter the relationship between the vast majority of people in this country who believe that the president's economic policies have failed."

But Miller says Republicans seeking to replace Obama in 2012 will have a hard time persuading voters that the president has been weak when it comes to foreign policy.

Gelb says the degree of domestic political impact for Obama will depend upon ongoing developments in Libya.

"We have to see next month and next year whether that country becomes a haven of opposition to western interests and ideals or whether it miraculous begins to edge toward democracy," he said.

In his remarks at the White House, Obama said the U.S. is under no illusions, saying Libya still faces a "long and winding road" to full democracy. But the U.S. and international community, he said, remain committed to the Libyan people.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More