Americans appear wary over U.S. role in Libya

  • Tue Mar 22nd 2011

Early comments online and in newspapers point to cautious American support for a limited role in bombing Libyan air defenses but wariness over entangling the United States in an ill-defined military mission.

The United States was slow to act on Libya yet wise to play down its role in a military intervention, some U.S. editorials, columnists and bloggers said. They also raised concerns over a perceived lack of leadership in a "war by committee."

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, in power since a military coup in 1969, lost control of large sections of the country in a revolt last month and his forces had been fighting back.

But a military coalition, including France, Britain and the United States, has been firing missiles at Libyan targets for several days to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, which was approved by the U.N. Security Council on Thursday.

The Libyan uprising followed popular revolutions -- without international intervention -- that ousted the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt.

The Wall Street Journal, which had called for action and is often aligned with Republican views, welcomed the assault but criticized its method.

"The use of force against Libya looks like the first war by global committee," The newspaper said on Monday. "We support the military action, even if it is much belated."

"But the war's early prosecution also raises concern about its leadership, its limited means and strategic goals. On none of these have coalition members been clear or unified, starting with President (Barack) Obama," the newspaper said.

Washington, looking to extract itself from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wants as low a profile as possible in Libya, although it has quietly taken the lion's share of missile and air strikes so far, diplomats say.

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