Indeed, the Lawyer replaced the Orator Wednesday afternoon. Obama said, “This violence must stop,” but offered limited ideas about how his administration will go about coordinating its end.
“The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed or injured. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya. These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency.”
The New Republic called the president out Friday for empty words.
“This ‘must’ denotes an order, or a permission, or an obligation, or a wish, or a will. It does not denote a plan. It includes no implication, no expectation, of action. It is the rhetoric of futility: this infection must stop, this blizzard must stop, this madness must stop…. Must the murder of his own people by this madman stop, Mr. President? Then stop it.”
So far, the U.S. has focused on pursuing sanctions and resolutions geared at pressuring longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi into ceasing the attacks he has launched against the opposition, his own citizens.
The United Nations Security Council issued a statement Tuesday denouncing Libya’s abusive crackdown, and asking the dictator to act with restraint and respect for human rights.
Politico reported Thursday that the Obama administration also plans to support a Security Council sanctions resolution, expected to be introduced by the United Kingdom Friday.
Meanwhile, as the politicians and diplomats have gone about officially decrying the bloodshed, the situation has continued to escalate. Clashes between pro-government forces and the opposition moved into Tripoli Friday, with more reports of security forces firing indiscriminately into crowds of protesters.
Reports from inside the country indicate the resulting casualties could now number in the thousands, said Navi Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights.
Speaking at an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council Friday in Geneva, she said: “We owe [the Libyan people] our solidarity and protection from violence.
Obama said in his speech Wednesday that human rights are not negotiable, but has not presented specific consequences if the Libyan leader, who has vowed to fight to his “last drop of blood,” doesn’t stop.
Such repercussions need to be made clear and soon, a New York Times editorial said Thursday. Otherwise, the newspaper said, Qadhafi will kill hundreds or even thousands more of his own citizens in his struggle to keep power.
“There is not a lot of time. Colonel Qaddafi and his henchmen have to be told in credible and very specific terms the price they will pay for any more killing,” the Times editorialized. “They need to start paying right now.”