America

Debate: When To Intervene?

Now that the United States, Britain, France and other major powers have decided they will take military action, if necessary, in an effort to end the killing in Libya, where Col. Moammar Gadhafi has been attempting to crush those in his country who are demanding the end to his regime, many are asking this question:

Why not take similar action against the governments of Yemen, where there are reports that as many as 30 people were killed today by government forces? Or Bahrain, where authorities continue to crack down on protesters?

Gen. Wesley Clark, a former supreme allied commander at NATO who made a brief bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, argued in The Washington Post last week that the situation in Libya didn't warrant U.S. military intervention. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who recently ended a stint in the State Department, has made the case that the Obama administration she left earlier this year should have moved more quickly and has been "defining 'vital strategic interest' in terms of oil and geography, not universal values. [A] wrong call that will come back to haunt us."

In a conversation today with All Things Considered host Robert Siegel, Clark and Slaughter largely agreed on what the U.S. and its allies need to do now that the decision has been made to intervene in Libya — move quickly and decisively.

There was disagreement, though, on whether the U.S. and its allies should be as willing to intervene in places such as Yemen and Bahrain as they now are concerning Libya. Clark argued that "we have to have some degree of particularity in our policies toward these states" and need to make allowances for things such as the pressure that Bahrain's leaders are under from a Shiite population he says is being pushed by Iran.

But Slaughter said that if nothing more is done about what's happening in places such as Yemen, "it is going to be much harder now for us to insist on [the] line that governments have to negotiate peacefully" with such protesters.

Here's part of the conversation.

On intervention

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On intervention

Much more will be on ATC today. We'll add the complete, as-broadcast version, later.

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