This past Sunday, October 24th, tens of thousands of people gathered in Eastern Benghazi, Libya. They were there to declare their “liberation” following Thursday’s death of their former dictator, Moammar Gaddafi. After 42 years of “heavy-handed” and controversial leadership, followed by eight months of a NATO-supported revolution against the Gaddafi regime, Libyans are preparing to swiftly chart a new future. Libya’s National Transitional Council, the current governing body in Libya, is planning to form an official government in about two weeks.
As NavigatingPolitics.com reported back in March (See “Libya: Obama’s Third War?”), when the US began its limited involvement in the region, Gaddafi had waged a public “no mercy” slaughter campaign on his own people, who were protesting for more rights. After much debate, the international community joined together to condemn Gaddafi regime and authorize targeted attacks to save civilians.
On Friday, the day following the vote, Libya’s Defense minister announced a cease fire, essentially declaring the attacks on the citizen rebels would end. However, on Saturday, the attacks by air resumed causing France to send fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone. By that afternoon, France announced that one of its planes had fired on a Libyan military vehicle, and by the evening, the United States, Italy, and Great Britain all joined the French in attacking Gaddafi forces. The United States alone launched 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles to hit Tripoli and Misratah(Libyan cities), several hitting the compound of Moammar Gaddafi. -From NavigatingPolitics.com article, “Libya: Obama’s Third War?”
Six months later, the rebels succeeded in capturing the capitol city of Tripoli. And eight months later, the rebels killed Gaddafi.
The United States, from the start has pledged limited involvement. President Obama, repeatedly promised that there would be no ground troops deployed, and that the direct involvement of the US military was going to be limited to days, not weeks. The President’s refusal to over-invest resources in Libya was criticized by Republicans who charged the US was leading from behind. President Obama, however, held true on his promise, with all US operations conducted from the air or by sea, and with NATO quickly taking control of military operations in Libya.
While the the death of Maommar Gaddafi marked the end of an era in Libya, the death of Gaddafi also marked the first tangible result of the Obama Administration’s new era of American Foreign Policy; one in which international support in needed and leadership of the crisis is shared.
US intervention in Libya was unlike that of Iraq, in which there were tens of thousands of troops deployed to the region with no robust support from the citizens of the country, no dominant international support from countries in the region, and no military support from NATO. Libya and is successful outcome represents the fulfillment of what can be viewed somewhat as the Obama Doctrine.
I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests…There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security
In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.-President Obama March 28, 2011
President Obama’s limited and restrained, but strategic, use of the military was the guide behind his announcement last Friday to withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of the year.
…as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.
Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq — tens of thousands of them — will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier[s] will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. -President Barack Obama October 21, 2011
While this announcement, although desired, was forced by the Iraqi government’s refusal to give remaining troops diplomatic immunity, it represents the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce the US footprint around the globe.
The completion of a war will be added to the list of foreign policy success in just one year, with the removal of a dictator in Libya, and the killing of Osama Bin Laden earlier this year. By the end of the year, a new era of American Foreign Policy under the Obama Administration will have taken shape.
What do you think about this shift in policy seen in Libya and Iraq? Are we being weak by limiting our Involvement Abroad? Comment Below!