Shadi Hamid in Slate:
During an otherwise bizarre, incoherent speech on Tuesday, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi clarified one thing: He is ready and willing to slaughter his own people if his survival requires it.
In confirming what many had already suspected, Libya has moved from one stage of conflict to another. The more appropriate model here is not Egypt or Tunisia but rather Bosnia, Kosovo, or Iraq after the first Gulf War—civil conflicts in which leaders perpetrated premeditated, mass killing of noncombatants.
Only a few days after pro-democracy protests first broke out, the death toll has risen as high as 1,000, according to some estimates. It is likely to get worse, threatening a repeat of Syrian President Hafez Assad's destruction of Hama in 1982, which claimed at least 10,000 lives. To prevent a similar outcome, the international community—specifically the United States, the United Nations, and NATO—must intervene.
The international response to the Libyan crisis has so far been lacking in both vision and resolve. Initial reactions, with their by now tiresome phrasing—”expressing grave concern” and “urging restraint”—suggested a limited vocabulary that was not commensurate with the gravity of the crimes being committed.