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Obama doctrine? If only

• Michael Boyle, Guardian
In  his speech on Monday night, President Obama articulated his rationale for the ongoing military campaign in Libya, claiming that a failure to act would have permitted humanitarian catastrophe that would have "would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world". His argument was essentially one of moral emergency, implying that anyone chastened by the failure of the US and European governments to act in Rwanda and similar cases should recognise the necessity of acting in Libya.

But as recent events have demonstrated, a compelling moral case does not equate to a coherent strategy. Indeed, it is charitable to call this strategy muddled. Initially committed to only to defensive operations to stop the advance of the Libyan military into cities like Benghazi, the Obama administration quickly began working with the rebels to coordinate air strikes to push back Gaddafi's forces. This turned the US, Britain and France into combatants in a civil war; no matter how much they claim only to be engaged in "kinetic military action" or some other Orwellian euphemism, the facts are plain. There are now CIA officers present in Libya to coordinate air strikes with rebels, and the US has flown over 1,600 sorties. While the American public may be fooled by the dissembling language, Gaddafi and his regime will have no illusions about who is bombing them.

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