Libya Strategy Questioned

As NATO bombs continue to fall over Libya, some challenge the air campaign. A new concept in international relations, “the responsibility to protect,” was a key concern of the U.N. Security Council Resolution authorizing intervention. Gerard Powers, director of Catholic Peacebuilding Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, said that while the Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi’s threat to civilians forfeited his government’s right “to be protected by norms of sovereignty and nonintervention,” NATO’s dependence on military action poses a moral dilemma. “If the military objective is really regime change, that’s hard to justify in Catholic approaches to humanitarian intervention,” he said. Instead of military intervention, Powers called for nonmilitary steps, including sanctions, political pressure and diplomacy. “In Libya, we have a disconnect between ends and means,” Powers said. “Airstrikes seem to be a tactic impersonating strategy, and without a viable strategy, military might easily masquerades as humanitarianism.”

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