But strong words must be paired with strong action. Canada and the international community must stand by the people of Libya who, like so many others throughout the Arab world, seek the basic human rights that should be enjoyed by all who desire them. Whereas the protests elsewhere have led to relatively peaceful transitions or to dialogues for reform, Libya’s rulers have chosen repression and slaughter.
Our response may very well determine whether the next authoritarian government threatened follows Gadhafi’s lead. This is not about picking winners; it’s about being on the right side of history by saving human lives.
We have seen the cost of inaction, delay and obfuscation on innocent populations elsewhere. The Responsibility to Protect is about the world engaging when a civilian population is under attack — either from its own government or because its government lacks the means or will to protect it. Libya is one of the clearest examples yet of just such a circumstance.