Huffpost WorldPost
Tihomir Kukolja Headshot

Choosing Not to Act Is to Act

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If the international community desires to help the Libyan people by now it is desperately running out of time. At this moment the Libyan Colonel Gaddafi and his family are on a killing spree against their own people, through indiscriminate slaughter, blatant lies, shameless cover-up and arrogant defiance.

While the conditions in Libya are deteriorating by hour, the world diplomacy continues to calculate, moving gently towards declaring the no-fly zone over Libya. Abounding in repeated but non-obliging condemnations EU, NATO, UN and USA are too slow to produce a tangible plan of action that would halt Gaddafi's overwhelming artillery fire, long-range missiles and repeated air attacks aimed at the Libyan people. Meanwhile the blood of men, women and children run on the streets of the Libyan cities.

I know that a decision about what would constitute a proper action against Gaddafi, and under what circumstances, is a tough one for the US government to make. It has learned the lesson after a misguided military action in Iraq in 2003. But, whichever way its final decision goes, and one will have to be made soon, the cost may be daring.

In the words of Dietrich Bonheoffer, the powers that matter in the world have come to the point when choosing "not to act is to act". Eventually, whatever the others do, the US government will have no choice left but to intervene one way or another. For there will be no greater embarrassment for America, and the European Union too, to see Gaddafi's regime survive after so many reassuring promises given to the Libyan people, such as: "We will provide whatever assistance they need."

The US has only a short time, measured in days rather than weeks, to assert itself as the world leader. At this moment its moral strength and legitimacy are being tested by whatever it does in regard to the Libyan nightmare. A very much-needed focus on the earthquake and tsunami caused disaster will not take away from its responsibility towards the Libyan people. For whatever the outcome of the Libyan drama, it will dramatically shape the things to come not only in the neighborhood of the Middle East, but the world as a whole.

The stakes have never been as high as they are now. Every new day of bargaining costs, not only the lives of the systematically slaughtered Libyans, but the American international credibility too. Unless done soon and with determination, introducing the no-fly zone over Libya too late my easily appear not only patronizing and manipulative, but counterproductive as well. There is a huge moral difference between whether the US and its international partners act now and help save many Libyan lives, while there is still something to save, or if they do it too late in the role of international undertakers.

The rare opportunity for America to assert itself as a global leader is slipping through its fingers fast. Procrastinating delays are not helping. Now is the last moment, if not too late already, to send a tangible message to the people of Libya, Middle East, and other countries of the world, that living conditions of the ordinary people, and their suffering and legitimate thirst for freedom, matter to the US more than flirting with the dictators and their abusive regimes.