Commentary: A great big mess in Libya

Our relationship with the region that supplies much of the world’s oil became much more complicated when U.S. fighter jets and cruise missiles struck Libya. This is not the first time American forces have attacked that African country. Just shy of a month, 25 years ago, we bombed a number of sites in Libya, including the presidential palace of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, who, by the way, has been in power since President Richard Nixon.

At the time of the attack he was known to be one of the top supporters of terrorism in the world, but as of late, Gadhafi, has taken a back seat and renounced terrorism, admitting his country’s role in the Dec. 1988 downing of Pan Am flight 103 that killed 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, Scotland. He also gave up his nuclear ambitions.

But Gadhafi couldn’t avoid the wave of freedom that started in Tunisia as his countrymen rebelled, too. His response to the rebels was harsh, and just when almost all of the gains made by the rebels were about to collapse, in rides the calvary made up of France, Britain and the United States. We arrived, as British Prime Minister David Cameron said, in a “nick of time.”

There are several questions that we will have to answer sooner rather than later. There is no speculation that NATO forces are superior and can win the air war, but there is much more at stake. The UN resolution doesn’t give NATO authority to kill Gadhafi or to actively seek to destroy his regime. Our mission is simply to protect the citizens of Gadhafi’s country from him.

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