The Longer War

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And the mission creeps on


....Mr. Obama's description of the objectives has shifted. In a speech to the nation in late March, he described the effort as simply one of protecting civilians, and the White House denied that ousting Colonel Qaddafi was critical to that effort. "Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake," he said. While sporadic attacks on civilians continue, the United States and its allies have largely achieved that objective, NATO and American officials contend. The rebel-held ground in eastern Libya is secure, and rebel forces aided by allied air power have pushed back loyalist Qaddafi forces from the contested port city of Misurata. 

But Mr. Obama suggested on Wednesday that the objective had broadened. "The goal is to make sure that the Libyan people can make a determination about how they want to proceed, and that they'll be finally free of 40 years of tyranny and they can start creating the institutions required for self-determination." That is parallel to the objective the United States set in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Iraq in 2003.

Here is how the mission was described in March:

The president had a caveat, though. The American involvement in military action in Libya should be limited -- no ground troops -- and finite. "Days, not weeks," a senior White House official recalled him saying.

We are now into months. And, in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming to liberate a people from "40 years of tyranny" scares the fuck out of me.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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