NATO Impotent: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #4 (April 28)

The world’s greatest military alliance, NATO, has been issuing these pathetic public statements about having hit, e.g., six tanks and five “technicals” here or there.

NATO — impotent in Libya, in the sense that it is losing the battle.

We should remember that Osama Bin Laden was emboldened by the weak responses of the West to the terrorist attacks Al Qaída had launched, so emboldened that he set 9/11 into motion.

What would a real NATO attack on the armed forces of Qaddafi look like? Would we be talking about attacking six or seven tanks, as if that’s a good day’s work and that’s all that is required?

What’s it going to take to win this thing? And if we haven’t thought about winning it yet, we’d better start thinking really hard about the consequences of losing it.

For NATO, stalemate will be equivalent to losing it.

A widespread perception that NATO is impotent does not bode well in the Middle East.

If we blow this thing, “The Arab Spring” could turn into one of those moments in history where the hopes of new generations are dashed, as passions are crystalized into hatred of those who inspired their hopes–and stood idly by as they were crushed.

What would Obama have done at Srebrenice, if he were watching events through the cameras of a Predator drone?

Having committed so much of our word and honor to this enterprise, how can the United States stand idly by as the siege and destruction of Misurata continues?

See Ben Hubbard (AP), “Gadhafi forces pound rebel-held Misrata: Moammar Gadhafi’s forces shelled civilian areas in the rebel-held city of Misrata on Thursday, killing 10 people,” Seattle Times, April 28, 2011.

In domestic law, if a good Samaritan stops to assist another person in distress, the Samaritan owes that person a duty of reasonable care in providing assistance.

What is the duty of those who are seeking to carry out the mandate of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973–by “all necessary measures”?

Is their duty only to satisfy their domestic audiences and alliance partners that they are doing their part, hitting six or seven tanks every couple of days?

Or is their duty to halt the attacks on civilians by removing the person who is ordering those attacks from power? By all necessary means.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is an international lawyer who has taught innternational law, human rights, and comparative law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), and an international development practitioner who has worked on human rights and judicial reform projects in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and in Russia. He has also worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in Europe, the Middle East, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Observer speaks fluent French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to English. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University, and a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) in International Law from Harvard University. As an undergraduate, he studied modern European history at Stanford, where he won the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best honors thesis in history.

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