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Daily View: Should Nato stay in Libya?

Clare Spencer | 09:43 UK time, Monday, 22 August 2011

Libyan rebels


In the wake of Libyan rebels entering the country's capital Tripoli, commentators discuss whether Nato should stay.

The president of the US's Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass says in the Financial Times that the rebels have little in common besides being against Col Gaddafi, which poses serious questions for Nato:

"Now Nato has to deal with its own success. Some sort of international assistance, and most likely an international force, is likely to be needed for some time to restore and maintain order. Looting must be prevented. Die-hard regime supporters will have to be defeated. Tribal war must be averted. Justice and not revenge need to be the order of the day if Libya is not to come to resemble the civil war of post-Saddam Iraq in the first instance, or the chaos (and terrorism) of Somalia and Yemen down the road."

He goes on to say Barack Obama must go back on his promise that there will be no boots on the ground in Libya.

John Tabin in the American Spectator suggests Europe and US have different interests:

"If the fighting isn't over, that's a problem for Europe, which would bear the brunt of a refugee crisis. It is not a problem for the United States - at least, not a big enough problem to justify a further commitment. President Sarkozy should consider sending in ground troops for peacekeeping and stabilization. President Obama absolutely should not."

General Lord Dannatt warns in the Telegraph that Western intervention could be counter-productive:

"A western presence on the ground in the shape of peacekeepers or aid workers will most likely prove counter productive. A key lesson from Iraq is not only that post intervention support and planning is critical, but who delivers it is vital.
"The elephant in the corner during the Libyan conflict has been the Muslim Brotherhood and other backers of the Islamist agenda. Their presence flashed briefly into the headlines around the assassination of General Younes a month ago but the conflict otherwise has been conspicuous by their absence. The arrival now of western peacekeepers or aid workers in Libya would provide exactly the pretext that enabled al-Qaeda to characterise the Iraqi intervention as a western violation of Islamic space. Thus far western influence has been confined to support from the air and sea with the boots on the ground being filled by Libyan feet."

US Democrat congressman Dennis Kucinich says in the Guardian Western intervention has already been unacceptable:

"Regardless of whether Muammar Gaddafi is ousted in coming days, the war against Libya has seen countless violations of United Nations security council resolutions (UNSCRs) by Nato and UN member states. The funnelling of weapons (now being air-dropped) to Libyan rebels was, from the beginning of the conflict, in clear violation of UNSCR 1970. The use of military force on behalf of the rebels, in an attempt to impose regime change, has undermined international law and damaged the credibility of the United Nations. Countless innocent civilians have been killed, and Nato air strikes continue to place many at great risk.
"So much for the humanitarian-inspired UNSCR 1973 as a means to protect civilians."

In contrast, Max Boot says in Commentary magazine that he wished Nato had done more, sooner and that it will need to be involved in setting up a democracy:

"Qaddafi might have fallen months sooner if President Obama had acted sooner and devoted more resources to the NATO campaign. The fact the fighting has stretched on for more than six months has raised the cost of reconstruction and deepened already existing fissures in Libyan society. That raises the danger it will be hard to stabilize post-Qaddafi Libya.
"This brings us to our second caveat: that, while Qaddafi's fall is a big step forward, it is not the end of the journey. If Libya is to arrive at the destination we would all like to see - if it is to emerge as a liberal, Western-style democracy - much hard work lies ahead. As I have been arguing for awhile, it is vitally important NATO be ready to help stabilize the situation, to prevent Qaddafi's supporters from mounting an insurgency, to keep potent weapons from slipping out of governmental control-in short to ensure Libya does not suffer the fate of Iraq or Afghanistan, which descended into chaos after the collapse of their regimes."

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