If foreigners had not intervened in Libya, the bombardment of the country's towns and cities by Gathafi's government would have continued. Benghazi most likely would have borne the brunt of a furious administration, and hundreds of thousands of lives could well have been lost, writes President Paul Kagame of Rwanda (pictured right).
My country is still haunted by memories of the international community looking away. No country knows better than my own the costs of the international community failing to intervene to prevent a state killing its own people. In the course of 100 days in 1994, a million Rwandans were killed by government-backed "genocidaires" and the world did nothing to stop them.
So it is encouraging that members of the international community appear to have learnt the lessons of that failure. Through UN Resolution 1973, we are seeing a committed intervention to halt the crisis that was unfolding in Libya. From what the world saw on the sidelines of this conflict, had this action not been taken, the bombardment of that country's towns and cities would have continued, Benghazi most likely would have borne the brunt of a furious administration, and hundreds of thousands of lives could well have been lost.
Given the overriding mandate of Operation Odyssey Dawn to protect Libyan civilians from state-sponsored attacks, Rwanda can only stand in support of it. Our responsibility to protect is unquestionable--this is the right thing to do; and this view is backed with the authority of having witnessed and suffered the terrible consequences of international inaction.
My main concern, however, is whether this necessary action will not be compromised by ambivalence and wavering arguments. Now that the UN Security Council has taken a strong stand and sent the message that our global community will be relentless in protecting civilians under threat, particularly from their own leaders, we cannot be seen to be indecisive about moving forward in completion of this aim. There are no two ways about it: the resolution authorises the use of all necessary means to protect Libyans--so wherever there is need of protection, the allied coalition should act, and do so in no uncertain terms. The issue is not so much about regime change as it is about saving lives, but we cannot ignore the link between what is happening in Libya and the acts of the current administration.
From the African perspective, there are important lessons...