The Daily Gamecock

US response to Libya situation necessary


International community must assist in times of violence

As we watch the people of Egypt and Libya take to the streets from the comfort of our air conditioned dorms and relatively safe apartment complexes, some of us may be tempted to look at our television screens and shake our heads.

Ultimately, we decide uprisings thousands of miles away in villages we have never heard of, have little to do with us. Instead of choosing to act, we adopt an attitude of apathy, one that many have chosen to adopt regarding the most vulnerable in our own society — the poor, the disabled, the abused and the neglected. Such an attitude not only pervades and poisons our populace — it ruins our political system.

Sure, reasonable people can disagree about how our government should respond to the needs of those living within and without its borders, but there should be little disagreement that our government must respond to inhumane actions taken by dictators hell-bent on staying in power. As Moammar Ghadaffi hires mercenaries to kill protestors in Libya, the United States and the international community have moral responsibilities to stand in solidarity with those who have chosen to risk their lives for freedom. Both have begun to make steps in the right direction.

Just yesterday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to sanction Ghadaffi and other officials responsible for the loss of life in Libya. President Obama, saying publicly what he should have said from the very beginning, called on Ghadaffi to step down. Speaking with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Obama remarked that “when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving.” The president is right, but calling on Ghadaffi to step down is not enough.

Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts has called on U.S. and international oil companies to “immediately cease operations in Libya until violence against civilians ceases.” There are some who have argued that this is a horrible idea that would only cause a spike in gas prices here in the United States and elsewhere. I frankly could not care less. We owe it to the people of Libya to do whatever it takes to send a clear message to Ghadaffi and his followers that their actions are intolerable. Our leaders cannot sit by idly as thousands are murdered for speaking out against a leader who has long brought pain and suffering to his people. Now is the time to stand on the side of the Libyan people whose cries for freedom have long fallen on deaf ears.

“Why should we care?” you might ask.

We should care, not because of gas prices, but because we know that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As the U.S. and the international community decide how to respond to the atrocities being committed in Libya, I remind them that history will not be kind to those unwilling to take a stand for justice today.