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Politics & Current Affairs

Libya Is the Obama Doctrine

The N.A.T.O. intervention in Libya which emphasized airstrikes to protect civilians may become a model for how the U.S. wields force in other countries where its interests are threatened.

What’s the Latest Development?

While Libya’s National Transitional Council (N.T.C.) attempts to strengthen its new found control over the capital of Tripoli, a new political doctrine of intervention is emerging from the tentative success which international support appears to have had in ousting the Gaddafi regime. Two principles about American intervention abroad have emerged from N.A.T.O. action in Libya: (1) the U.S. has a responsibility to prevent an impending slaughter, like that which was expected in Benghazi and (2) the U.S. will not act alone. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Thus far, Obama’s advisers have been hesitant to discuss the Administration’s foreign policy “doctrine” because it sees any set of principles as having limited applicability given the vastly different nature of international conflicts. Could the new principles apply in Syria? Not to date. Commanding N.A.T.O. allies like Britain and France, not to mention the U.S., see much higher stakes in an intervention into Syria. While Libya was politically isolated, Syria has formidable allies in the region and officials worry that a post-intervention Syria might be bloodier than the current situation. 


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