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Libya and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention

How Qaddafi's Fall Vindicated Obama and RtoP

Courtesy Reuters

The fall of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi is a significant foreign policy triumph for U.S. President Barack Obama. By setting overall strategy while allowing others to shoulder the burden of implementing it, the Obama administration achieved its short-term objective of stopping Qaddafi's atrocities and its long-term one of removing him from power. This was all done at a modest financial cost, with no U.S. troops on the ground, and zero U.S. casualties. Meanwhile, as the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Qaddafi's utter defeat seemingly put new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention.
One must be careful, however, not to overdraw lessons from the Libyan experience. It was a unique case and is unlikely to be repeated.

For one, Libya had Qaddafi, a villain straight from central casting, who had managed to alienate nearly all UN member states, including his erstwhile Arab

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