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Published August 26 2011

Forum editorial: US Libya strategies successful

One need not be an ardent fan of President Barack Obama to recognize that his policies and strategies regarding the rebellion in Libya have been successful. The president’s measured rhetoric and incremental involvement in the apparent overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi were vital factors in a formula that engaged U.S. allies and others in a campaign fueled primarily by the Libyan people.

All along the way during the past few months, the president’s critics said he wasn’t moving fast enough, he wasn’t speaking forcefully enough, he wasn’t offering enough support to the rebels. The critics got it wrong.

Obama, in concert with NATO, the United Nations and several Arab nations, worked quietly and effectively to help rebels ramp up the pressure on Gadhafi. While airstrikes were led by France and other NATO nations, the U.S. provided vital intelligence, sophisticated operations and control expertise and staging areas on U.S. ships, all of which were crucial to the rebels’ advance. Diplomacy, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, helped solidify the western alliance, which made life more and more difficult for Gadhafi and his loyalists. Without significant U.S. participation – often more covert than showboat – the rebels could not have ousted the dictator.

The president’s antagonists insist he was “leading from behind” in the Libyan matter. Of course he was, and that was a good thing. Rather than bluster and sabre-rattling that might have led to American boots on Libyan sand, Obama wisely applied the intelligence capability and war-making know-how of the U.S. to an allied effort that affected the outcome of the rebel uprising. By any measure – other than the bitter partisanship of the anti-Obama crowd – that’s smart American leadership.

Whether Gadhafi is dead, on the run, in hiding or on his way to exile in some rogue nation, Libya is rid of him. The U.S. and its allies are moving quickly to free up frozen Libyan financial assets so a new government can begin to rebuild the country. It appears the troubled nation will quickly restore its oil production to pre-rebellion levels. It also appears leaders emerging from the rebel ranks are ready for their nation to join the global family of civilized nations, something Gadhafi could never fully achieve.

Thus far, America and her western allies have played a pivotal role in what appears to be a positive outcome for Libya and the world.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.