Triumph of the New Wilsonism

No national interest was cited as a rationale for America's Libya campaign; the action was justified solely on humanitarian grounds. This marks a fundamental break with past U.S. policy prescriptions for such military interventions.

Issue: Jan-Feb 2012

WHEN OPERATION Odyssey Dawn commenced in the skies over Libya on March 19, 2011, it represented a major turnaround in U.S. policy. Only nine months earlier, U.S. ambassador Gene Cretz had characterized the regime as a “strategic ally” of the United States due to Libyan cooperation on counterterrorism and nonproliferation issues (and its halting, tentative steps toward greater openness). Now Libya found itself on the receiving end of conventional U.S. military power for repressing a civilian population agitating for governmental change.

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