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June 9th, 2011, by Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum

To read more about Anne Applebaum, see her Global Expert profile.

The president of South Africa has been and gone. The United Nations is wringing its hands. NATO has said it will continue bombing, but Moammar Gaddafi has not announced his resignation. The rebels control Benghazi, but the government controls Tripoli. As of the end of April, the NATO bombardment had destroyed more than a third of Gaddafi’s military capacity but had not moved the front line at all. Hardly anything has changed since.

In other words, the Libyan war — or rebellion, or whatever we are calling it — is in stalemate. But is stalemate bad?

It depends on whom you ask. Sen. John McCain has been pretty clear: He said on “Meet the Press” in April that a stalemate would attract al-Qaeda to Libya — or others who might take advantage of the absence of political authority. For the same reasons,Sen. Lindsey Graham called on NATO to attack Gaddafi directly — to “cut the head of the snake off.” On the other side of the political spectrum, Rep. Dennis Kucinich has called for the president to withdraw from Libya immediately, on the grounds that a long-term American involvement there is illegal and unconstitutional — and stalemate, by definition, means a long-term commitment. The U.S. military has been involved in Libya one way or another since mid-March. At the second week of June, there is no obvious end in sight.

Stalemate looks bad: It makes NATO seem ineffectual. Stalemate also sounds bad, which is why nobody publicly defends it. And yet plenty of people, at least in the United States and Britain, are perfectly happy with their Libya policy, even if they never say so. They do give hints: A couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton declared that “time is working against Gaddafi.” The Libyan leader, she argued, will never again be able to establish control over the country. Instead — or so the theory goes — sanctions will begin to bite, food and fuel shortages will grow, his followers will grow restless, and his cronies will defect. Thus without direct Western military intervention, Gaddafi will be overthrown, the rebels can claim victory and NATO will disappear into the night. In Europe last week, President Obama told his counterparts, in effect, that this is his plan. He even urged officials from countries not in the military coalition to join, so as to be “on the right side” when the colonel’s regime collapses.

To read rest of the article, see The Washington Post, in which this article was first published on June 6, 2011.

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One Response to “The Arab world isn't clamoring for our help”
  1. JL Gawlik says:

    Interesting you did not hear anyone asking for help, i actually heard several yell “President Bush, we need your help! Please send it.”

    I thought that was odd because that was our previous President to the USA not the current one. Go review footage, it’s there and recorded for history.

    The French are just worried about the oil. It is really sad to see more powerful nations, and the UN pick and choose who they decide they should save while hundreds of thousands are loosing their lives because they can now view the world through 4G communications and they realized how suppressed and or poor they really are while the people who run their government live like kings.

    It is human nature to want freedom and liberties, every human has inalienable rights given to them by their creator and they should be able to govern themselves and keep their country or state’s sovereignty and be able to grow to their highest potential. That in itself would rid the world of poverty, people crave to do things for themselves not to be dependent or beholden to a person or a government but to be able to stand up and do it themselves. Sometimes they will ask for a helping hand or guidance.

    Funny how the British were ran out by the Rebels? Why are some countries able to talk and work with the rebels? It is human nature not to want to live under tyranny. People crave freedom and liberty.

    The Arab League did ask for the USA’s help. They did it behind closed doors then publicly.

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