President Obama is facing mounting calls to do something to help rebels fighting to overthrow Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Complaints that Obama is moving too slowly have come mainly from conservatives, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who wants a no-fly zone to keep Gadhafi from mowing down pro-democracy forces from the air. But Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), an Obama ally and the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also warns of failing to prevent a slaughter. Obama says he's considering "a range of potential options, including potential military options." Can Obama delay taking action much longer? Should he?
Obama must act now: There's a reason conservative critics find Obama's "non-policy" on Libya so "appalling," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. We have so far limited ourselves to ineffective half measures — freezing assets and threatening war-crime charges — while balking at possible military options. Doing the "bare minimum" while innocent people are being slaughtered is almost as bad as doing nothing at all.
"Conservatives bash Obama's do-nothingness on Libya"
The American people want to stay out of Libya: The "Washington talking heads" may want Obama to intervene right away, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, but "the American people feel otherwise." A Rasmussen poll found that just 22 percent of likely voters want the U.S. to get involved in Libya; 63 percent want to stay on the sidelines. "Sounds to me like another one of those times when the public is ahead of the pundits."
"Nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose intervention in Libyan civil war"
We can intervene militarily without invading: The best option is to "give the Libyan rebels the aid they need to win," from "secure communications" to "a couple of thousand rocket-propelled grenades to deter Qaddafi's tanks and SUVs," says Thomas E. Ricks at Foreign Policy. It's still possible that we'll need to send in Special Operations troops to take Gadhafi out — but in the meantime we can help without putting American troops at risk.
"What Obama needs to do with Libya — and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today"
Stick to soft power: Sure, military intervention might work, says Simon Tisdall at The Guardian, but the smarter option is still a coordinated diplomatic effort to boost the provisional government in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, while offering immediate humanitarian relief. It's not the quickest or most dramatic option, but "soft power" is often best.
"Soft power is the best way for the west to intervene in Libya"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- How to adopt the perfect rescue dog
- The week's best photojournalism
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
Subscribe to the Week