Time for the U.S. to step in on Libyan civil war

A lot has been written and said recently about the United States’ position with respect to the Libyan government’s conflict with its people. The situation on the ground is near levels of full-scale civil war. And after this weekend, it appears Col. Moammar Gadhafi is taking back what many rebels captured in the initial throes of this campaign.
 
That’s unfortunate, and I would argue certainly not in the best interests of the U.S., nor for stability in the region. Concepts of “the devil I know …” are continuously brought up when comparing the tyrant to what could replace him in that leadership vacuum.
 
But the potential for terror far outweighs any downsides of a leaderless Libya, at least in my mind. And for these reasons, the United States should begin to get more engaged in the region. A few reasons:
 
First, the “leaderless” part of Libya’s new storyline following the fall of Gadhafi won’t last long. Just as in years past, someone from inside the country will step forward, and the U.S. and our allies will ease in that transition, if only with humanitarian aid and funds alone. That form of diplomacy we’re pretty good at.
 
Second, as former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton recently stated, the window for the U.S. to actually make a difference and affect the outcome of this conflict is rapidly closing. Gadhafi’s henchmen are suppressing the opposition. If we wait too long, there might be no one left to help. At least not in any organized, systematic way.
 
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) agrees. That’s why he’s called for some sort of enforcement of a no-fly zone and an enhanced American presence in the country.
 
No one is talking about troops. Even if they were, the public’s appetite just isn’t there. But the president is missing an opportunity here to exert some foreign-affairs leadership. Gadhafi is certifiable. No one disputes that.
 
Now is not the time to be timid. By the same token, we don’t need another Iraq or Afghanistan. Yet we shouldn’t let our apprehensions over those two conflicts cloud the good judgment that Libya is a country where the U.S. can step in and end this charade Gadhafi has perpetuated for too long.


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