Are we willing to let the Libyan rebels fail? OPPOSED TO GADDAFI took a moment to pose triumphantly on a Libyan tank near Benghazi. (One of the new Libyan images people are posting to Wikimedia Commons.)The original reason for military intervention in Libya was to stop Gaddafi from using warplanes and helicopter gunships to massacre rebels. This made intervention a “just cause”—a moral obligation—and so the United Nations authorized the use of force. (See Monday’s post on “Just War.”)

It’s as if we were trying to ensure a fair fight, with the military superpowers playing referee.  \When one side had a grossly unfair advantage, they intervened and removed it. But going further—like sending in ground troops—was out of the question.

Does this mean that we are willing to let the Libyan rebels fail? Rebel forces appear to have made advances, but Gaddafi has not given up and continues to attack the rebels. It’s possible that, without more military interventions, the rebels could be routed—and maybe massacred after all.

If such a massacre were imminent, it seems that we would face the same moral obligation as we did in the beginning. Preventing a massacre might require more and more involvement.

One-third of Americans (34%) say the United States should get more directly involved in the Libyan crisis, according to a national poll taken by Rasmussen Reports over the last two evenings.

Please, Comment below:

Should we get more directly involved?

Should we only act as referees?

If Gaddafi keeps up his offensive, can we let the rebels fail?

(Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)

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