On Monday, President Barack Obama said the United States has the opportunity in Libya to stop the violence and protect Libyans from their ruthless and despotic leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Obama is trying to play the middle ground. He is acting aggressively to protect the Libyan people and has changed the course of the conflict.
At the same time, Obama has stated we will not overextend American resources in Libya.
Despite many uncertainties related to the intervention, the Obama administration is acting both justly and altruistically.
The U.S.-led war in Libya doesn’t benefit us in any tangible way. Libya is not strategically vital to the United States despite its strategic location.
The war in Libya is a war of choice, not one of necessity or defense. Obama has made that clear.
Despite his address Monday, Obama has yet to clearly state the expected length of America’s involvement in Libya.
If Obama wants the students who helped elect him in 2008 to vote for him again in 2012, he will have to make sure American resources aren’t overextended in Libya like they are in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently said the United States could be engaged in Libya for up to a year.
But costs of this war might be the most unnerving aspect of the intervention.
The cost incurred by the Pentagon during the first 10 days of the bombings was $550 million, and the Department of Defense expects the war to cost $40 million each month, Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Kathleen Kesler said in a recent email statement.
The United States cannot afford a long intervention in Libya, nor will the American people will not accept one.
NATO action in Libya also risks overstepping the United Nations resolution that initially empowered it, limiting action in Libya to the protection of citizens.
Still, Obama’s intervention in Libya is just, courageous and grandly American.
Gaddafi is one of the most violent rulers in the world today. And action had to be taken.
The war in Libya is an idealistic war for the standards of democracy and freedom; the Obama administration is doing right by standing by these ideals in Libya.
In his recent address to the nation, Obama preached his Woodrow Wilson-like worldview: “Our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.”
The Obama administration appears to be holding its promise to scale back America’s commitment to the war effort as well as handing over leadership to NATO.
The war in Libya further demonstrates how the United States can act with other international powers in the protection of human rights.
Collective action is essential in humanitarian interventions. American taxpayers cannot afford to bear the full burden of this crisis.
Of course, the United States cannot intervene in every foreign country where atrocities occur.
If it did, America would never have the time to attend to its domestic affairs.
The war on Libya is far from over, and, like all other conflicts, shrouded in confusion.
Yet, as long as American troops never step foot in Libya and resources are not overspent, the Obama administration should be commended for acting against Gaddafi.
The public might be quick to point out the administration’s tactical flaws in its handling of Libya over the past few weeks. Quite frankly, such criticism might persist.
Regardless, when an American president truly upholds the ideals of freedom and democracy, he should be given his due credit.
William Fay is a senior majoring in international relations. His column, “Facing Our Global Challenges,” runs every other Thursday.