Libya: This is How International Intervention is Supposed to Work

Think about this: Six months ago, a dictator broadcast very publicly that he was intending to kill tens of thousands of his own citizens. Then, working remarkable fast, the international community coalesced to isolate the dictator.  First, the Security Council passed a sanctions resolution and ICC referral. When that did not deter Qaddafi, it authorized the use of force as a last resort.

A powerful international coalition volunteered to enforce that Security Council mandate.  Meanwhile, on the ground, a rebel force with broad legitimacy among the population did the hard fighting to expel the dictator. Now, it looks like the bad guys are going to be shipped off to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes. All the while, it cost the United States about $1 billion. No American was killed.

Armed intervention should always be an absolute last resort, to be used rarely and only when all options fail–and only if justified on moral and legal grounds.  This could all unravel tomorrow if the country descends into anarchy. But for now, this is pretty much the platonic ideal of humanitarian intervention, no?