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Anne-Marie Slaughter accuses Obama of prioritizing oil over values

Former senior State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter, who has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s response to the crisis in Libya, today accused the U.S. government of prioritizing oil over human rights. "U.S. is defining ‘vital strategic interest’ in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. Wrong call that ...

Former senior State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter, who has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration's response to the crisis in Libya, today accused the U.S. government of prioritizing oil over human rights.

"U.S. is defining ‘vital strategic interest' in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. Wrong call that will come back to haunt us," she wrote on Wednesday on her Twitter page.

She didn't specifically mention Libya, but her criticism echoes what she sees as the failure of the international community to support popular revolutions in the Arab world.

Former senior State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter, who has emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Obama administration’s response to the crisis in Libya, today accused the U.S. government of prioritizing oil over human rights.

"U.S. is defining ‘vital strategic interest’ in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. Wrong call that will come back to haunt us," she wrote on Wednesday on her Twitter page.

She didn’t specifically mention Libya, but her criticism echoes what she sees as the failure of the international community to support popular revolutions in the Arab world.

The G8 foreign ministers met in Paris on Monday to discuss the crisis in Libya, but failed to agree to move forward on a no-fly zone. France and Britain pushed hard for more forceful action, Germany and Russia pushed hard against intervention, while the United States declined to take either side, according to a European official who was briefed on the meeting.

Afterward, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Arab sentiment was,  "if you don’t show your support for the Libyan people and for democracy at this time, you are saying you will intervene only when it’s about your security, but you won’t help when it’s about our democracy".

Slaughter, who had kept her personal opinions private during her approximately two years inside the Obama administration, has been increasingly vocal about her concerns regarding the U.S. government’s approach to Libya ever since she left her post as the State Department’s director of policy planning in January. She used one of her first tweets to call for international intervention in Libya back on Feb. 24, going further than the U.S. position on a no fly zone at the time.a

"The international community cannot stand by and watch the massacre of Libyan protesters. In Rwanda we watched. In Kosovo we acted. #Libya," she wrote.

By invoking Rwanda, Slaughter compared the situation in Libya to the 1994 bloodshed that saw 800,000 Rwandans murdered in about 100 days — a clear case of genocide. Likewise in 1999, NATO bombed the Serbian capital of Belgrade following that government’s actions in Kosovo, although a U.N. court in 2001 decided the situation did not technically constitute genocide.

Then on March 13, she penned an op-ed in the New York Times titled "Fiddling While Libya Burns," which sought to rebut various arguments against imposing a no fly zone over Libya. "President Obama says the noose is tightening around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. In fact, it is tightening around the Libyan rebels, as Colonel Qaddafi makes the most of the world’s dithering and steadily retakes rebel-held towns," Slaughter wrote. "Any use of force must be carefully and fully debated, but that debate has now been had. It’s been raging for a week, during which almost every Arab country has come on board calling for a no-flight zone and Colonel Qaddafi continues to gain ground. It is time to act."

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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