For its part, the Obama administration was late in responding to the crisis. It showed no leadership at all in dealing with the crimes against humanity escalating day by day in Libya. Even its strongest denunciation of the situation in Libya to date has been oblique and lackluster.
More than a week went by before President Obama came before the television cameras to personally condemn the violence in Libya, which he did without mentioning Qaddafi’s name even once. Contrast this timidity with Obama’s frequent statements during the revolt in Egypt in which he took Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to task. It was several more days before the Obama administration announced its own set of sanctions against the Libyan regime. Still there were no calls by President Obama for Qaddafi to step down until finally, on the same day that the Security Council passed its resolution, the White House reported on a telephone call between President Obama and Chancellor Merkel of Germany in which the President told Mrs. Merkel that Qaddafi “has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.”
Obama’s call for Qaddafi to leave came days after demands for Qaddafi to go by Libya’s own UN delegation and by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Why the president has been so reticent with a clear response to Qaddafi’s obscene actions is infuriating puzzling.
Behind the scenes, meanwhile, the Obama administration maneuvered successfully to water down the Security Council resolution against Libya. It insisted on including the following paragraph excluding personnel from states which are not members of the International Criminal Court from ICC prosecution, presumably to avoid setting a precedent that could be used against the United States at some future time:
6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State.
French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud confirmed to Inner City Press that the United States had demanded the exclusion, claiming that it was “a red line for the United States. It was a deal-breaker, and that’s the reason we accepted this text to have the unanimity of the Council.”
By insisting on the exclusion in the Libya resolution, the Obama administration shielded mercenaries Qaddafi had imported from the non-ICC countries of Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia.
Nothing short of the rebels’ capturing or killing Qaddafi and his loyalists will put an end to his reign of terror. But at least the United Nations for once acted against true evil. Hopefully, Ambassador Rice will be around the next time something as historic as this happens. But if more regime-sponsored bloodshed emerges in the ever-unstable Middle East, we should not expect the Obama administration to do very much at all.
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