In finally speaking to the nation about the war in Libya, Barack Obama insisted that he would not stray from the UN mandate, which only tasks NATO and other coalition partners with protecting civilians in Libya. Obama specifically rejected the notion that the US would pursue regime change through military means:
“Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.”
Twenty-four hours later, Obama got a lot less categorical, or a lot more confused:
In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, President Obama didn’t rule out the U.S. would give arms to the Libyan opposition.
“I’m not ruling it out,” the president said. “But I’m also not ruling it in. We’re still making an assessment partly about what Khaddafy’s forces are going to be doing. Keep in mind, we’ve been at this now for nine days. And the degree to which we’ve degraded Khadaffy’s forces in those nine days has been significant.”
Well, perhaps no one has informed the President of this, but running arms to rebel armies is a military intervention. Supplying weapons to forces looking to overthrow a nation’s government is a clear cassus belli, a military provocation that makes the supplying nation a belligerent — especially when the supplying nation is simultaneously bombing the government’s military. And since the entire point of a rebellion is regime change, then arming the rebellion in Libya is most certainly a military alliance for that purpose.
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Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!