Overall, I’m anti-war: I would rather the U.S. not get involved in foreign wars and occupations, but I support revolutions led by the people for democracy against ruthless dictators. That is what we are seeing in Libya right now. Yes, NATO assisted the rebels and they likely wouldn’t have won without NATO’s air-strikes, but it was not an American, European, or NATO forced movement for democracy. It was a true revolution that began organically; the people rose up against tyranny before any foreign power assisted them. Pacifists and critics will be upset that the U.S. got involved in a third foreign war, but Libya is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Libya had a revolution brewing, and the U.S., France, and Britain got approval from the UN to protect civilians in Libya. Once NATO began military action in Libya, there was no question they were in it to see the fall of Gaddafi. As I’m posting this, Gaddafi is still in power, but the rebels are taking Tripoli, and his time is limited. When Gaddafi falls, there will be a true revolution led by the people. If the rebels’ government succeeds, the fact that NATO helped lead it will be an afterthought in history. When the United States declared independence from Britain, France supported the revolution due to its rivalry with Britain, but nobody thinks of it as a French led revolution because the American people started it and led it. Similarly, people won’t think of the Libyan revolution as a NATO led one since Libyans started it, organized it, and led it themselves, and NATO contributed to the rebels’ cause without occupying or sending foreign troops.
Democracy cannot be imposed by a foreign power; the people of the land need to fight for democracy themselves. A significant difference lies between what the U.S. attempted to do in Iraq and Afghanistan and what the U.S. did in Libya. The war against Afghanistan was the U.S.’s attempt to overthrow the Taliban, and capture Osama bin Laden and any other anti-American terrorists. In Iraq, the U.S. declared a “preemptive strike” to justify invading and occupying Iraq in order to overthrow Saddam Hussein and create a new democratic government. In both nations, the U.S. attempted to install a democracy in nations where the people neither rose up and demanded it or asked for the aid of a foreign power. In Libya, with the spirit of the Arab Spring, the people rose up and demanded democracy; while Gaddafi was using ruthless tactics to preserve his grip on power, the rebels managed to take some major cities and prove they had a legitimate chance at taking power. It was not until then NATO got involved, with the approval of the UN (granted, NATO clearly used a very loose interpretation of the right to use military to protect civilians), and began air strikes to cripple Gaddafi’s defenses, which saved the rebellion and allowed for the revolution to succeed. This is what a revolution looks like. Sweet revolution.