Town by town, forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi have pushed back rebels, until the advances in the last few days have left just the large city of Ajdabiya between them and the rebel headquarters at Benghazi. The Libyan uprising could soon come to a sorry end. If it does, Libya’s case may well become the example that other autocracies might want to follow.
Yet, as time runs out for the Libyan opposition in the face of Gadhafi’s superior firepower, leading multinational groups continue to dither over action in the country. Let alone armed intervention, even the question of a no-fly zone seems to have put great powers in paralysis.
Whether it is action on climate change or tyranny, indecision is the defining feature of multilateralism. Amid this prevailing belief in the efficacy of collective action, good intentions are giving way to weak-kneed helplessness.