The UN Security Council vote and the European-led imminent military action against Libya constitute a significant diplomatic victory for President Obama.
Only a week ago, no one really thought that the Western powers, the U.S., France, and Great Britain, would be able to get the Russians and Chinese to agree to anything when it came to Libya, let alone a yes-vote to impose a no-fly zone with its military consequences on that country. And although Russia and China in the end did not vote for military action, by abstaining they did not prevent one.
And by insisting on that a military intervention in Libya should be an international effort, and in this case actually led by the British and the French, Obama scored another diplomatic victory.
Obama, who campaigned for president in opposition to the Iraq and Afghan wars, now finds himself in a third war in the Middle East, albeit a limited one, without the prospect of American ground forces in Libya, as Obama has underlined.
Does the Western intervention in the Libyan civil war come too late to rescue the rebels from final defeat? It is unclear. For those who argue that the U.S. administration moved too slowly, comparisons to previous cases in Bosnia or Iraq, prove those voices wrong. Obama has moved much quicker than any of his predecessors, in spite of his apparent deep reluctance to engage militarily in another Mideast conflict. The Arab League’s approval of a no-fly zone in Libya proved crucial in paving the way for Obama’s decision, but to a large extent, events on the ground in the Libya forced his hand. No one in the Administration wanted to risk a repeat of the Rwanda tragedy.
Now, the world is waiting for what will come next.