Is this the right thing to do for the international community? Hell yes.
Readers of this blog know that I am no warmonger, I do not support nation building, and I’m generally very suspicious of the motives of any government when it comes to “spreading democracy” and the like. And yes, I am perfectly aware that Libya is a major oil producing country.
That said, it seems to be that in this case — at least so far — the coalition that is attacking Qaddafi is getting it exactly right. First, the goal is to protect civilians from an ongoing slaughter. Second, there is an actual uprising going on within the country, and one that has a decent chance of succeeding with international support. Third, diplomatic approaches have been tried and have failed. Fourth, the coalition is truly broad and truly international (unlike, you know, thatothercoalition...). Fifth, the United Nations has given a clear imprimatur to military action. Sixth, there is no discussion (at least at the moment) of ground troops or nation building.
While there is nothing ideal in the world of politics, and there certainly isn’t anything clean about any war, the above conditions — it seems to me — make this initiative as clear and close to ideal as possible.