A Reluctant World Leader

As it turns out, this time it was the tail wagging the dog. The tail being undecisive and pacifist Europe, the dog being the mightiest nation on Earth, and its Nobel laureate president, Barack Obama.

By the end of last week, it was clear to all that Gadaffi would not go down quietly like his Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts, but rather resort to fighting his own people. Which of course is a clear violation of international law and the U.N. Even so, America was unusually passive in deciding on a possible international intervention. Instead it was France taking the lead, and even the Arab League was in favour of establishing no-fly zones.

“Does Obama believe that the era of U.S. leadership should be seen to be over?” asked The Times columnist Rosemary Righter. Christopher Dickey noted: “One might ask, as many Arabs do, whatever happened to Obama’s oft-repeated rhetoric about Gandhi and Martin Luther King and getting on the right side—the people’s side—of history?”

In his inauguration speech, Obama said: “The true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.” These words were obviously idealistic, but it seems reality is catching up. The strength of America may very well be its ideals, but if nothing is done when those ideals are threatened, what does it matter? What is the use of might of arms or scale of wealth, if they are not willing to use those forces to defend the people whose liberty, opportunity, and hope are threatened? Then it’s just a lot of talking. I don’t think the Libyan people care about Obama’s speeches. They care about Gadaffi’s guns. And speeches won’t take them away.

Nobody knows how this will end. Military operations are not always accurate undertakings, and dealing with a madman like Gadaffi could certainly prove dangerous. But something had to be done. In the end, the U.N. did authorise the use of force, and America did join the coalition. They’ll probably even try to take credit for it. Especially if the current bombings prove fruitful. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, the Danish Parliament voted unanimously in favour of participating in air-based military intervention, even before the U.N. passed its resolution. It is a historic event that even the far-lefties (who are usually opposed to pretty much anything) are in on something like this. It is, of course, election year in Denmark, and the opposition is eager to present themselves as willing to be responsible. Nevertheless, I’m proud of my country, and hope for the best for the people of Libya.


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

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