Libya? Your Move, Mr. President

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In the newsmag biz, you don’t call something a trend until you have three examples. Well, here are three heavyweights who in the last day or so have called on the Obama Administration to get off the dime and do something — militarily — about Libya. It’s looming as a moment of truth for the White House.

Argues former Pentagon deep-thinker Thomas P.M. Barnett:

We let this go down and we’ll be hated anyway, and we hate ourselves for letting it happen. So what is the big difference? There will be no working with the guy after this anyway, so what is the downside?…We recognize the rebels. We supply them. We drone and fly aircraft in order to make it impossible for Qaddafi to win. We tell the Russians and Chinese this presents zero precedent for anything involving them. We simply do what’s right. I realize it’s no easy call for Obama, but at some point you need to move away from what you can’t live with and toward something you can stand. Qaddafi, if he wins, will go on killing and torturing for a very long time. Just about everybody needs outside help in these things. We did.

Ex-WashPost military reporter Tom Ricks adds:

I think President Obama needs to sit down his defense secretary and the Joint Chiefs of Staff today and look each of them in the eye and then say this:  Don’t tell me what I can’t do in Libya. Tell me what you can do. Give me a list of options. And give them to me within 24 hours, because push may be coming to shove, and I don’t want to see Qaddafi prevail…we don’t want to the lesson to Arab autocrats to be that all you need to do is shoot up the rebels and the West will turn tail. Also, Qaddafi may be regretting giving up his WMDs right now. We don’t want the lesson for other bad actors to be that he should have held on to them.

Neocon Joshua Muravchik concurs:

The West’s refusal to come to the aid of Libya’s lightly-armed freedom fighters as they face planes, tanks, and heavy weapons may turn the Libyan civil war into the first great betrayal of the 21st century, reminiscent of many that stained the last century…If the butchers of Tripoli succeed in putting down this popular uprising, they will establish a model that other of the region’s most harsh despots will emulate. The US should impose a no-fly zone now and also provide weapons to the rebels who are pleading for help. The claim that we need the authorization of the UN Security Council is false. In a similar situation, NATO made war on Serbia over the case of Kosovo, where the depredations of the central government against its citizens were far less egregious than those in Libya, and where the overall state of human rights was mild in comparison. Some NATO allies have expressed reluctance, but a strong push from Washington would in all likelihood bring them around. If it did not, we should proceed without NATO. The crisis will not wait, and the important thing is to prevent Benghazi from becoming the Guernica of the 21st century.