Saturday, March 19, 2011

Gadafi defies UN resolution



By GARY BAUMGARTEN

Avi Perry, author of 72 Virgins and Paltalk News Network talk show host said it best. To paraphrase, he suggested that the world not trust Moammar Gadafi when the Libyan president announced a cease-fire in the wake of a UN no-fly and military authorization resolution.

Today, the world is waking up to learn how correct Perry was.

Gadaffi used his announced cease-fire as cover to attack from the air Benghazi, a city held by rebel forces. Just as Perry had predicted.

And now he is publicly thumbing his nose at the UN, calling the resolution "invalid."

Gadaffi's response has prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to huddle with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris to decide what their next steps should be.  If those steps include boots on the ground, there will be invariable comparisons to Iraq. But that would be unfair.

The United States used the most tenuous pretense to declare that the Iraq invasion was "authorized" by the United Nations. At a time when the UN's secretary general and chief weapons inspector both were clearly, to put it mildly, uncomfortable about it all.

In this case, the secretary general has been upfront and unambiguous about Libya. And there is a clear Security Council resolution, ink still drying, in hand, which says, military might is permitted, if necessary, to stop Gadaffi.

That's not to say there aren't lessons to be learned from Iraq. The United States, 'til now, has not taken the public lead in beating military drums. The fact that Clinton is meeting with Cameron and Sarkozy suggests that, this time, should there be an invasion, the United States won't be going it alone.

Even some in the Democratic leadership are urging the President Obama to take care to not appear as the puppet master.  House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), for example, is on record saying the United States should not take the lead in any military action against Libya.

"I firmly believe," he says in a statement, "that our European allies and the members of the Arab League must take the leading role."

Therein lies a potential problem. The UK and France may be pointed to as fulfilling the "European allies" part of Hoyer's equation. But what of the Arab League?

Almasryalyoum reports in its English edition that Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa opposes an invasion. Moussa, the news site says, argues that the UN resolution doesn't support any military action or occupation of Libyan land.

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