The Foreign Policy Initiative has authored a letter to President Obama recommending his administration act with America's NATO allies on ending the violence and the "murderous regime" in Libya. The letter was signed by 41 former U.S. government officials, human rights and democracy advocates, and foreign policy experts, including the boss and several contributing editors and contributors to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. The text of the letter is below.
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
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.
Stephen E. Biegun
Reuel Marc Gerecht
Bruce Pitcairn Jackson