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Humanitarian Intervention, Not Imperialism

By Dan Serwer, The Atlantic - March 20, 2011

A coalition of the willing attacks an Arab country; French warplanes strike armored vehicles; American cruise missiles take down air defenses. It all sounds to some too much like Iraq redux. But it's not. The proper analogy is Srebrenica. This is the international community acting under international law to prevent mass murder.

The current military action against Libya is clearly approved by the UN Security Council. Qaddafi has claimed it is illegal, but even China and Russia (who abstained from the UN vote) cannot doubt that Resolution 1973 authorized the use of force to protect Libyan civilians. Neither will Germany, Brazil, nor India (all of whom abstained). Angela Merkel has already said "We share the aims of this resolution. Don't confuse abstention with neutrality." The others may not like it, but if they had serious legal or political objections they could have voted against. Or maybe their interests in becoming permanent Security Council members overwhelmed their reserves. Either way, the resolution had all the votes it needed.

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