President Obama’s stated goal of saving innocent lives in Libya plays a lot better than “regime change.” It feels good to many Americans, despite their reluctance to enter another conflict abroad, and there is wide support internationally for stopping mass atrocities. If the United States is serious about protecting civilians, though, it needs to address the kinds of conundrums that are emerging in Libya: Does civilian protection inevitably require imposing political change? Do we arm rebels who might not protect civilians themselves? What if NATO bombs kill the very civilians they were supposed to protect?


Sewall, Sarah, and Anthony Zinni. "The Military Interventions We Don’t Plan For — Those to Protect Civilians." Washington Post, April 22, 2011.