One of the key criticisms of George W. Bush’s foreign policy was his willingness to use American force unilaterally. The Obama administration is desperately seeking to avoid a similar criticism. To this end, the administration has emphasized over and over again that the air strikes conducted against Qaddafi’s forces in Libya are the actions of an international coalition. This could not be further from the truth.
Take a quick look at which countries are launching the attacks.
Although the Obama administration has claimed that the coalition is international and has especially pushed the notion that the air strikes have the backing of the Arab world, thus far only the United States, Britain, France and to a lesser extent Canada have deployed air power or missiles over Libya.
In fact, the Arab League’s secretary general, Amr Moussa, expressed unmistakable doubt that the military action may have gone beyond the scope of the United Nations resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya. According to the latest reports, the Arab League is expected to re-endorse the no-fly zone in conjunction with the air strikes, but lingering doubt obviously remains, undermining solidarity.
Thus far, the only Arab League member nation to contribute military power to the coalition has been the tiny nation of Qatar. The contribution has come in the form of four lonely jet fighters and even these have been ordered by Emir Sheikh Al-Thani to penetrate Libya no further than the coastline.
How did the United States manage to construct the idea that the Arab world is behind the air strikes?
The reason is because the Arab League officially endorsed the U.N. Security Council resolution for a no-fly zone over Libya for the purpose of protecting the Libyan people. The U.S. has simply utilized this previous mandate to claim Arab support for another.
What about the rest of the world?
Not only has the rest of the world declined to assist the Western nations militarily over Libya, but major players, primarily Brazil, Russia, India, and China actually abstained from the Security Council’s vote for a no-fly zone. For one to claim that a true international coalition exists while so many of the world’s largest and most prominent powers reject what they view as further American imperialism is absurd at best.
Despite what you may have been informed, there is no international consensus regarding any of the events that have transpired in Libya during the past several weeks. There is only doubt and uncertainty.