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News Update: Libya

What began as a peaceful protest against a dictator, one of many recently in the Middle East, evolved into a multi-national military conflict when United States armed forces fired 120 Tomahawk missiles at Libyan ground forces on March 19.

In late February, President Barack Obama abandoned his impartial stance on the conflict in Libya and moved to freeze the country’s assets in U.S. banks, seizing over $33 billion. As world leaders convened to discuss further action, Colonel Muammar Qadaffi, dictator of Libya, announced that he would have “no mercy” on his own people.

Unable to risk waiting any longer, Mr. Obama ordered an attack on Libya in order to establish a “no-fly zone.”

Seventeen years ago, America was blamed for allowing the mass murder of 800,000 civilians in the Rwandan genocide, forever staining the Clinton administration. Mr. Obama’s critics suggest that fear of a similar humanitarian tragedy led America into the air strike. The president stated that he will take “all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.”

The Republican Party opposed the conflict in Libya, arguing that its growing cost is unsustainable for the U.S. in light of the recent budget disputes. Many of the same politicians who resist American intervention in the conflict remain loyal supporters of the Iraq war, which has cost U.S. taxpayers over $900 billion dollars since September 11, 2001.

The president met challenges in defending the Libyan intervention. Each Tomahawk missile fired costs an estimated $1.41 million, setting the total cost of the barrage on March 19 at $169 million taxpayer dollars.

Obama has yet to publicize plans for the end of the conflict, while Qadaffi continues to cling to power.

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