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 International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas, and who has also been a visiting professor at the University of Costa Rica Law Faculty in San José. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, the Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.) from Stanford University, and a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) in International Law from Harvard University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, the Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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