Foreign Policy Experts Urge President to Take Action to Halt Violence in Libya

February 25, 2011

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The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC  

February 25, 2011

Dear Mr. President:

In your 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, you rightly declared that “Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later.”  Today the United States and our allies in Europe must take action in response to the unfolding crisis in Libya.  With violence spiraling to new heights, and with the apparent willingness of the Qaddafi regime to use all weapons at its disposal against the Libyan people, we may be on the threshold of a moral and humanitarian catastrophe. Inaction, or slow and inadequate measures, may not only fail to stop the slaughter in Libya but will cast doubt on the commitment of the United States and Europe to basic principles of human rights and freedoms.  Therefore, we recommend the United States, in conjunction with NATO allies, take the following specific actions immediately:
1)  The United States should call upon NATO to develop operational plans to urgently:

  • Establish a presence in Libyan airspace to prevent the continued use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships against civilians and carry out other missions as required.
  • Move naval assets into Libyan waters to aid in evacuation efforts and prepare for possible contingencies. Establish the capability to disable Libyan naval vessels used to attack civilians.

2)  Freeze all Libyan government assets in the United States and Europe.

3)  Consider temporarily halting importation of Libyan oil to the United States and Europe.

4)  Make a clear statement that Col. Qaddafi and other officials who order and participate in massacres of civilians will be held accountable for their crimes under international law.

5)  Provide humanitarian aid to the Libyan people as quickly as possible.

The United States and our European allies have a moral interest in both an end to the violence and an end to the murderous Libyan regime.  There is no time for delay and indecisiveness.  The people of Libya, the people of the Middle East, and the world require clear U.S. leadership in this time of opportunity and peril.



Elliott Abrams Neil Hicks John Podhoretz
Stephen E. Biegun William Inboden Randy Scheunemann
Max Boot Bruce Pitcairn Jackson Dan Senor
Ellen Bork Ash Jain John Shattuck
Scott Carpenter Robert Kagan Mike Singh
Eliot Cohen David Kramer Gare Smith
Seth Cropsey Irina Krasovskaya William Taft
Larry Diamond William Kristol Marc Thiessen
Thomas Donnelly Tod Lindberg Daniel Twining
Michelle Dunne Michael Makovsky
Pete Wehner
Eric Edelman Ann Marlowe
Ken Weinstein
Peter Feaver Cliff May
Leon Wieseltier
Jamie Fly Joshua Muravchik
Damon Wilson
Reuel Marc Gerecht Martin Peretz
Jennifer Windsor
John Hannah Danielle Pletka
Paul Wolfowitz

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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