US must support democracy in Libya


President Barack Obama has finally spoken publicly on the uprising in Libya, calling the use of violence to quell the protestors "outrageous and unacceptable." It must be noted, however, that it took Obama nine days to address the revolution in Libya. These protests are inarguably major events on the global scale — especially for the United States, which considers itself the champion and protector of democracy everywhere. What could have distracted Obama for so long? Why didn't he respond sooner, as he should have? White House Press Secretary Jay Carney chalked up Obama's silence to a "scheduling issue," but we think that is a weak excuse. As the President of the United States, Obama should have been able to pencil Libya into his schedule much sooner.

When protests began in Egypt, it did not take Obama anywhere near as long a time to address the issues. This fact only scores to underline his lapse on the subject of Libya. We understand Obama probably wants to take his time and deliberate on these issues. But, when things get as serious as they are in Libya, Obama needs to speed up his deliberations. He does not always have the luxury of taking his time.

The fact that it took so long for Obama to address the situation in Libya is especially salient, considering Obama is usually praised for his diplomatic abilities. But what we have here is a moment wherein, to put it bluntly, Obama faltered — and it is never easy to watch a leader you trust drop the ball, so to speak. Instead of hiding behind the "scheduling conflict" excuse, Obama should just admit that he messed up this time and move forward. Besides, did Carney really think anyone would be satisfied with the excuse he proffered? That, in and of itself, is a bit of an insult to the American people and — even more so — the Libyans who are fighting to bring about the changes they desire to see.

If the United States really wants anyone to believe that it is the champion of democracy, then it needs to start acting like it. Obama's late arrival to the fray — not to mention his sort of tepid comments on the subject — further tarnishes our country's image on the national stage, not to mention the fact that it makes it hard for even American citizens to believe what we are told about our country's loyalty to the concept of democracy everywhere.


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