After two days of meetings, NATO leaders decided this week that they would not yet halt their air campaign in Libya, even though Moammar Gadhafi is no longer in power and his remaining forces are cornered. Gadhafi, speaking publicly Thursday for the first time in weeks via an audio message, called the country's new leaders illegitimate, and urged Libyans to rise up against them. "There is eagerness to end the mission," one NATO diplomat tells The New York Times, "but also concern that we don't end it too soon and give inspiration to the pro-Gadhafi forces." Is continued bombing an unnecessary mistake?
The bombing is doing more harm than good now: NATO overstepped its mandate by launching airstrikes against Gadhafi in the first place, says Mike McNally at Pajamas Media. But even if you believe NATO's air war was "legally and morally justified," it's hard to argue that the battered loyalists besieged in Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte still "present an imminent threat" to civilians in the rest of the country. At this point, the bombing accomplishes nothing — except worsening an already devastating humanitarian crisis.
"NATO helping cause humanitarian crisis in Libya?"
The war will be over soon enough: Even if airstrikes continue around Gadhafi's hometown, "the war is winding down," says Reese Schonfeld at The Huffington Post. NATO is sure to pull out in the relatively near future. It will have to answer for the duration of the campaign — and for the civilian deaths it caused. But the bottom line is that "the Gadhafi forces would've triumphed if it had not been for NATO's intervention" — an intervention that, right or wrong, is essentially "all over."
"Libya: It's all over but the doubting"
Actually, NATO's responsibility is far from finished: Libya was a crucial test case for the international community's right and responsibility to step "between a brute and his victims," says Ramesh Thakur at the Toronto Star. NATO, with the United Nations' imprimatur, helped to "level the killing field." But "the Libyan people’s euphoria and NATO's relief over Gadhafi's ouster" was only the first step toward vindication. The only way to prove our intentions were pure is to stick around as long as it takes to make sure the new Libya is able to stand on its own.
"Libyan case proves worth of tough love"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Half the world's population lives in these 6 countries
- How a degree from Duke University dashed my dreams of buying a home
- This is why you can't trust the NSA. Ever.
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Innocent before proven guilty? The bizarre bipartisan rush to clear Rick Perry
- The real-life events that inspired Game of Thrones' Red Wedding
- What Keeping Up with the Kardashians can teach America about interracial marriage
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- It's time for the police to rethink 'shoot-to-kill'
- This 1,600-year-old Viking war game is still awesome
Subscribe to the Week