The Corner

America Must Stand with the Libyan People

In recent days, the world has watched in horror as the Gaddafi regime has brutally massacred its own people for simply expressing their desire to live in a free and peaceful Libya.

Without hesitation, Americans should condemn the brutal Gaddafi regime and this wanton killing of civilians. We should unflinchingly support the Libyan people’s legitimate demands to build a freer and peaceful country.

Unfortunately, the administration’s initial response has been inadequate. Instead of taking the initiative, the administration is relying on other countries and international bodies to lead. For example, it makes no sense to rely on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a body that has long been comprised of and even led by some of the world’s worst human-rights abusers, including Libya.

Instead, we should immediately engage willing partners to limit the regime’s ability to wage war against its own citizens.

These measures could include (but are not limited to) pressing bordering nations to stop the flow of mercenaries into Libya, finding ways to restore severed communications, imposing a no-fly zone to protect civilians against aircraft attacks, and mobilizing a humanitarian relief effort.

The U.S. must make it crystal clear to Libyan officials that harm to any Americans will not be tolerated and would carry the heaviest consequences to those engaged in or ordering any such measures. 

In addressing this crisis, the United States should remember the cold-blooded ruthlessness that the Libyan regime has demonstrated over decades. Remember that this regime was responsible for the deaths of 178 American airline passengers in a terrorist attack over Lockerbie, and has exported and promoted terrorism around the world.

Today, its target is the Libyan people, who simply yearn to usher in a new era freedom as their neighbors in Tunisia and Egypt have peacefully done. America must stand with the Libyan people in this effort.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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