The Middle East Channel

Too little, not yet too late

Much of official Washington has greeted the evidence of an ongoing massacre in Libya with a helpless shrug. "We don’t have personal relations at a high level," lamented David Mack, a former U.S. diplomat in North Africa, in a Washington Post article titled "U.S. struggles with little leverage to restrain Libyan government." Numerous articles in ...

MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images
MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Much of official Washington has greeted the evidence of an ongoing massacre in Libya with a helpless shrug. "We don't have personal relations at a high level," lamented David Mack, a former U.S. diplomat in North Africa, in a Washington Post article titled "U.S. struggles with little leverage to restrain Libyan government."

Numerous articles in recent days, clearly influenced by what U.S. officials are telling reporters on background, have stressed this theme: The United States doesn't have deep ties with the Libyan military, as it did with the Egyptian and Bahraini militaries; it does not provide large amounts of aid to the Qaddafi regime; U.S. diplomats don't have friends in the Libyan government to whom they can make reasoned arguments about the need to change their ways. Therefore, even as Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi deploys warplanes, helicopters, and troops to crush the growing challenge to his rule, it is assumed that there is nothing the United States can do about the catastrophe under way.

Read more.

Much of official Washington has greeted the evidence of an ongoing massacre in Libya with a helpless shrug. "We don’t have personal relations at a high level," lamented David Mack, a former U.S. diplomat in North Africa, in a Washington Post article titled "U.S. struggles with little leverage to restrain Libyan government."

Numerous articles in recent days, clearly influenced by what U.S. officials are telling reporters on background, have stressed this theme: The United States doesn’t have deep ties with the Libyan military, as it did with the Egyptian and Bahraini militaries; it does not provide large amounts of aid to the Qaddafi regime; U.S. diplomats don’t have friends in the Libyan government to whom they can make reasoned arguments about the need to change their ways. Therefore, even as Libyan leader Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi deploys warplanes, helicopters, and troops to crush the growing challenge to his rule, it is assumed that there is nothing the United States can do about the catastrophe under way.

Read more.

Tom Malinowski is a candidate for the Democratic nomination in New Jersey's 7th congressional district. He served as U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor under President Barack Obama, from 2014 to 2017. Before that, he was Washington director for Human Rights Watch, a senior director on the National Security Council staff, President Bill Clinton’s chief foreign policy speechwriter, and a speechwriter and member of the policy planning staff at the State Department under Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Warren Christopher. Twitter: @Malinowski

More from Foreign Policy

Volker Perthes, U.N. special representative for Sudan, addresses the media in Khartoum, Sudan, on Jan. 10.

Sudan’s Future Hangs in the Balance

Demonstrators find themselves at odds with key U.N. and U.S. mediators.

In an aerial view, traffic creeps along Virginia Highway 1 after being diverted away from Interstate 95 after it was closed due to a winter storm.

Traffic Jams Are a Very American Disaster

The I-95 backup shows how easily highways can become traps.

Relatives and neighbors gather around a burned vehicle targeted and hit by an American drone strike in Kabul.

The Human Rights vs. National Security Dilemma Is a Fallacy

Advocacy organizations can’t protect human rights without challenging U.S. military support for tyrants and the corrupt influence of the defense industry and foreign governments.

un-sanctions-inspectors-china-foreign-policy-illustration

The Problem With Sanctions

From the White House to Turtle Bay, sanctions have never been more popular. But why are they so hard to make work?