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Talk about a role reversal: As violence swells in Libya, the British and the French are calling for military intervention while the U.S. wants to go slow.

On Monday, Britain and France said they were applying for U.N. authorization for a no-fly zone--a move that is technically an act of war and would likely involve destroying Qaddafi's radar systems, anti-aircraft guns and missile batteries.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., President Obama is deeply reluctant to intervene militarily, reports The New York Times. "Of most concern to the president himself, one high-level aide said, is the perception that the United States would once again be meddling in the Middle East, where it has overturned many a leader," notes the report. An Obama senior official tells the Times that the president "keeps reminding us that the best revolutions are completely organic.”  

When was the last time the U.S. was on this side of an issue of intervention? One example that springs to mind is the Suez Crisis of 1956. During that conflict, Britain, France and Israel jointly intervened in an invasion of Egypt, defying U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower who urged the belligerents to hold back.

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