Yemen’s security forces killed more than three dozen protestors in the last few days. Gadhafi has announced that allied efforts to destroy his anti-missile defenses are a form of terrorism and as a consequence, he is prepared to decimate the rebels in Libya. It seems to me that it is time to ask a question that haunts the history of our time: Are there limits to dictatorial power?
Since the Holocaust, the international community has given lip-service to the idea that mass murder by dictatorial leaders should never be tolerated. Yet remarkably there are instances in Africa and Asia where this is common practice. In the Arab world where Shariah prevails, the killing of apostates is a routine practice.
Based on recent events, it would appear that conditions across the globe are sliding back to a barbaric period in which murder of one’s own people for the retention of power is permitted or at least ignored. The argument is we cannot possibly intervene whenever atrocities occur. Or perhaps more logically, sovereignty trumps atrocity.
It is instructive that U.S. State Department officials employed the latter position for a time by suggesting we should not insinuate ourselves into a Libyan civil war. In other words, however sanguinic the attacks may have been and continue to be, there is not a justifiable role for the U.S. Needless to say, that position has been modified by our stance on the “no-fly zone.”
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