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Monday, February 28, 2011

Obama administration sought UN cover for military action in Libya

Over the weekend at the United Nations, the United States sought cover for military action in Libya, to deliver humanitarian aid to the local population and to rescue its own nationals there. It succeeded in part, but at a price: Gadhafi's African mercenaries will not be hauled in front of the International Criminal Court.
The U.S. amendment called for authorizing member states, working with the cooperation of the United Nations, to use "all means necessary to protect civilians and key installations." In the diplomatic terminology of U.N. resolutions, the phrase "all means necessary" has traditionally served as a code for military action.

The debate over the use of force unfolded behind closed doors last week as the Obama administration began exploring options for ensuring the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Libya. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will arrive in Washington on Monday to discuss international plans to address the worsening violence in Libya. Over the weekend, the U.S. held talks with Europe and other countries to explore the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya, according to a report in the New York Times.

One U.S. official, while declining to comment on confidential negotiations over the Security Council resolution, cautioned that the U.S. diplomatic effort in New York was purely humanitarian. "Our intention on any of the language that had to deal with this particular issue was humanitarian in nature. None of this has to do with putting U.S. boots on the ground."

The United States had hoped its amendment would be included in the resolution that was eventually unanimously adopted on Saturday by the U.N. Security Council resolution, which imposed a range of financial and military sanctions on the Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi and his closest associates, and authorized an investigation into crimes against humanity. The U.S. had conditioned its support for the sanctions resolution on the inclusion of another provision that ensured that no foreign nationals inside Libya would be subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court, according to France's U.N. ambassador, Gerard Araud.

The provision provoked criticism of the United States because it shields large numbers of foreign mercenaries operating on behalf of Qaddafi from possible prosecution by the Hague-based court. But the provision would also immunize American and allied forces from possible prosecution if they enter Libya to help protect civilians or protect humanitarian relief efforts.

The provision was included in the final resolution at the insistence of "one country," Araud said Saturday night. "It was absolutely necessary for one country to have that, considering its parliamentary constrains. It was a red line for the United States, it was a deal breaker. This is the reason why we accepted this unanimously."

The U.S. provision allowing for the use of force, however, was shelved.
Honestly, I am truly shocked that the US tried to get that into the Security Council resolution - it's so unlike this administration. Unfortunately, since it failed, you can bet that the US will not take any military action no matter what happens there.

What could go wrong?

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At 9:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama is averse to using force to further American interests. This cannot but worry Arab rulers friendly to America who wonder whether they can count on America in a crisis.

What could go wrong indeed


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