Well, here goes my ignorant rant about Libya. Yes, I approve of what Obama (and the French and English, the UN and several other countries) have done. At this point in time, Libya is different from many other countries. We are witnessing a profound, and largely unexpected, change in the Middle East. People in a host of countries are showing that they are no longer content to be baited into accepting life under tyrants. The results have been extremely positive in Egypt and Tunisia, and there are very hopeful signs in several other countries. Yes, all of this ferment is inevitably going to produce deplorable governments in some countries, but still, this is a great thing that must, in the end, see large parts of the Middle East emerge from a long period of suffering.
Now comes Gaddafi. If he is allowed to use his military to destroy the popular forces at work in his country, there will be nothing to stop the governments of Syria, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and other countries from resorting to violent suppression of anything that challenges their rule, and the only lesson they will have learned is to hit hard and fast. Unfortunately for him, Gaddafi's fate is going to determine the future of all of these other places, and consequently, his victory is something that the world cannot afford. That is why the stakes are so high in Libya, and that is why the failure to neutralize him at this point will be tragic.
Obama is of course being attacked by the right for acting too slowly. Well, what he purchased by his cautiousness is the support of the world in this endeavor. This is a major change from the belligerence of the previous administration, and a vital step in convincing people outside our country that we are capable of using our military strength in a responsible manner. Being responsible, of course, means nothing to Republicans (look at the way they are using their new House majority,) but it is, I suspect, very comforting to the rest of us.
A common complaint from the left is that Obama has failed to act in the Congo, in the Cote d'Ivoire and other places where equally brutal regimes are savaging their people at will. I also would like to see the United States do more to stop this kind of atrocity, although we know what kind of racist garbage the teabaggers will have to dish out, at the sight of a black President spending a dime to stop a tragedy in a black country. Still, as distressing as our inaction has been in the past, this is still a good thing, and if Obama can bring it to a desirable conclusion, it will leave us far more able to exert constructive influence in other countries.
One final issue needs to be included in any American discussion of this problem. The previous President took Gaddafi off of the list of terrorist sponsors, in return for oil contracts with American companies. This was an act of monstrous corruption and indifference to our security, from someone who blabbed about fighting terrorism every time he opened his mouth. The American people need to remember this when they decide which party really wants to protect this country, and which party is more interested in corporate profits at any cost.