With the Coalition’s air attacks against Gaddafi’s forces well into their second day, experts, pundits, and policymakers around the world are debating what is the eventual goal of the operation in Libya: regime change or protecting civilians.
Others disagree, claiming that the goal of the mission isabout protecting civilians, not regime change. Rodger A. Payne posits that rhetoric from policymakers, who in statements to press often merge the two, has not helped the confusion about the operation’s purpose. Payne argues that a better way of framing the operation would be in terms of responsible to protect (R2P), the concept in international relationships stating that the global community has an obligation to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Writing on TheAtlantic.com, Johns Hopkins lecturer Daniel Serwer takes the more pragmatic position, arguing debate between regime change and protecting civilians is, in his words “a distinction without a difference”. Serwer points out that even if the goal of the mission is only to protect civilians; Gaddafi’s behavior has made removing him from power likely the only method of doing so.