If the United States is to bomb Libya, the argument must be made now, both at home and to the international community, before Qaddafi can slaughter his way to victory over the rebel movement. Such a public debate might alone deter Qaddafi from further bloodshed. But if the U.S. is to stay home, the president should explain why he is willing to accept bloodshed that does not intersect with U.S. interests. That might clearly signal to protestors that they should not count on U.S. assistance, and possibly prevent the same massacre that befell the Iraqi Kurds following the Gulf War.
If the U.S. intervenes in the ongoing revolution in the Arab world, some will call these spontaneous and moving uprisings the work of the CIA. But such malcontents will say that no matter what. In the mean time, if the Obama administration is so committed, the people of Libya need to know that on the other side of their struggle is U.S. solidarity. And as “Colonel” Qaddafi’s henchmen turn Tripoli into a killing field, it’s a safe bet that at least a few protesters wish the U.S. Air Force was there to fire back.