During President Barack Obama’s 2011 speech about Libya, he emphasized the need for action and the severity of the situation in Libya due to Qaddafi’s tyranny.
“For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom,” Obama said. “Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But, when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.”
Compared to his relatively confident and assured demeanor in 2011, Obama has recently stated that the lack of preparation on behalf of U.S. intervention in Libya was the worst mistake he has made as president.
This major error was “failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do with intervening in Libya,” Obama said during an interview.
Contrary to Obama’s recent declaration that his intervention and failure of planning was a mistake, I believe that immediate action was necessary and that he made a good decision.
It is important to note that planning for the day after may have potentially cost thousands more Libyans their lives.
The instability in Libya emerged after the Arab Spring swept across North Africa and the Middle East, beginning in Tunisia, as citizens held demonstrations and a successful revolution developed in 2011.
This single uprising in Tunisia caused a chain reaction, as Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other nations called for the ousting of their leaders who ruled with tyranny. Deposing these oppressive authoritarian regimes has liberated citizens who were fed up of the repression, poverty and overall lack of opportunities.
Tunisia had a relatively peaceful revolution and subsequent outcome. But, several other countries struggled, as democracy failed to take root.
Deposing Qaddafi was a massive victory because Qaddafi was willing to kill men, women and children who were citizens of his country in order to preserve his power.
Furthermore, Syria is in worse shape than Libya, and the situation in Syria would have been better if the U.S. chose to intervene.
Instead, Russian intervention has caused even greater damage, and it has opened the door for Assad’s regime to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. The migrant crisis has added insult to injury, as millions of Syrians began to flee from the violence in their homeland.
We don’t see a crisis to this extent in Libya, and waiting even a few days longer to plan and prepare for the intervention would have cost many lives and allowed the violence to persist.
Ultimately, although Libya is still unstable today, it is crucial to highlight the number of lives that intervention in Libya saved because a humanitarian crisis at that scale calls for immediate action from world leaders.