On March 28, 2011, Barack Obama defended his decision to intervene days earlier with military force in Libya, arguing that for the United States to stand by without responding would have been “a betrayal of who we are.”

"To brush aside America's responsibility as a leader and—more profoundly—our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are," Obama said. "Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Amnesty International reported at the time “hundreds have died in Libya since unrest began.” Others put the death toll in Libya as high as 1,000.

The death toll in Syria today is at least five times that number, with some opposition and human rights groups putting the figure as high as 8,500.

The United States, it seems, is suddenly very capable of turning a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. Why is our inaction now not a betrayal of who we are?

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