Obama’s Libyan moment

The White House has spilt the beans. President Barack Obama seems to be in a catch-22 situation, as he is at pains in defending the Libyan adventure. And, all this comes from a person who had made his mark on the political canvas of America by standing tall against invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by his predecessor.

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Published: Wed 30 Mar 2011, 9:20 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 6:57 PM

Apparently, it is business as usual the moment an incumbent steps into the corridors of power, and then onwards it is the interlocutors of the state that matter than personal beliefs and values. So is the case with the first black African-American head of state, who has accented to a war that will not be an easy affair to wind up. Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, as is evident from a month long episode, is a hard nut to crack — and with Russia and China getting perplexed with each passing day, Obama’s leadership to handle the crisis will be put to test.

Washington, which had cautiously treaded the Libyan affair at the United Nations by taking a backseat in mooting the resolution, should take extra care as it comes out openly in favour of military expedition. But taking into account the resistance that pro-Gaddafi forces are putting and the adamant attitude of the Libyan leader, the country seems to be prepared for a long-drawn war. If that is the case then the Resolution 1973, which mandated a no-fly zone over Libyan skies, needs to be revisited. Then will come the litmus test for NATO and the US — whether they are prepared for a full-fledged war or not. Unlike Baghdad and Kabul, Tripoli will be a tough capital to deal with and the tribal culture of the North African country could prove out to be a geopolitical quagmire for Washington. Obama — who recently on his trip to the Latin America had reiterated his country’s desire to stay aloof from any more wars — will have to do a lot of homework before putting his foot down.

Notwithstanding military compulsions, the United States has a political decision to make. Having ruled out a regime change, how can the reality change for Libyans when the country is gradually slipping into the abyss of a civil war? NATO and the European powers do not possess the capability to fight a ground war sans the US. Will Obama roll in his tanks and send soldiers for another expedition, which his countrymen believe is uncalled for? The die is yet to be cast.

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