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Argument: US has strong interests in arming Libyan rebels

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Fareed Zakaria. "The Libyan Conundrum. Time. March 10th, 2011: "Those who argue that we have no national-security interests in Libya are correct in the narrow sense. But the Libyan case represents a much larger issue. The Arab world is experiencing a genuine awakening. People in the region have lost faith in the old order. Whether they can actually overthrow the government, as they did in Egypt and Tunisia, or merely demand real reform, as in Jordan and the Gulf states, they are searching for a new political identity. (See pictures of Libya's rebels battling.) For the U.S., this presents a powerful opportunity. For decades, Arabs have regarded Washington as the enemy because it has been the principal supporter of the old order — creating a bizarre series of alliances in which the world's leading democracy has been yoked to the most reactionary forces on the planet. It has also produced a real national-security problem: the rise of Islamic terrorism. Al Qaeda's first argument against the U.S. is that it supports the tyrannies of the Arab world as they oppress their people. Now the U.S. has the opportunity to break the dysfunctional dynamic that produces anti-American hatred and violence. The Obama Administration has properly aligned itself with the hopes and aspirations of the Arab people, and it has called for governments in the region to engage in serious reform. But right now all these efforts have been sidelined. Libya is burning. Its people rose, and the tyrant gunned them down. Unless something changes, Muammar Gaddafi and his sons will be able to reassert control over the country amid a mass slaughter of its civilians. This would be a terrible outcome. President Obama has made it unambiguously clear that he wants Gaddafi to step down. The U.S. is actively seeking his ouster. To have him survive would be a humiliation for Washington at a moment and in a region where its words still have great impact. It would also send a disastrous signal to the other rulers of the region — in Syria, Algeria, Iran — that Mubarak made a mistake and that the way to stay in office is to engage in mass slaughter, scare the U.S. away and wait out the sanctions and isolation. America would lose its opportunity to align with the rising forces of the Arab world."

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