The international community must now act quickly to provide the essential outside support that will help to jumpstart the new government. Libya will need a supply of humanitarian goods, expanded trade credits, and longer-term economic assistance. It will benefit from political support as the new goverment works through a constitution, future elections, and internal reconciliation.
The United States, Europe, and key Asian countries must certainly help in a major way. But the Arab League should take the lead in rushing the immediate support the Libyan government will require to unite the country and turn it away from violence and toward reconstruction.
Today’s dramatic events confirm the wisdom of NATO’s decision, with UN and Arab League blessing, to intervene in the early stage of the civil war on behalf of the Libyan people’s army. NATO made the critical difference in denying Qaddafi’s forces use of airpower and in blocking and preventing a likely bloody siege of Benghazi. The British and French leaders deserve great credit for leading the NATO effort.
Mr. Obama was surely right to commit the United States, however reluctantly, to the NATO campaign. The Libya operation, like President Clinton’s interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, demonstrates that when powerful NATO forces are used for a precise mission with a clear and specific mandate and result, they can help them to liberate others without the debilitating long-term occupations that have characterized the bitter ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. In this sense, today’s liberation of the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s terrible and bloody reign, is a victory for NATO, too.