The case of Libya demonstrates the extent to which the law plays a role in enabling, shaping and constraining complex military and diplomatic operations. The law underpinned a number of decisions made at the policy level regarding military and diplomatic engagement. Although prior military operations can provide guidance for decision-making in future military operations, the application of the law to each case will be unique. The Libyan case study provides an example of how the law and politics intertwined to achieve the U.S. government’s objectives of protecting the Libyan people against violent attacks by their leader.
This chapter examines the role law played in five key political-military decision points relating to the case of Libya. First, should the United States join France and Great Britain in using force to protect the people of Libya? Second, what is the extent of military force that could be used to accomplish this objective? Third, to what extent should Congress be involved in the decision to use force? Fourth, should the United States recognize the National Transitional Council as the legitimate government of Libya? Finally, should the United States and its allies seek a negotiated settlement if the military campaign failed to adequately protect civilians or to prompt a regime change?
Williams, Paul and Triponel, ANna, "Military Intervention and Diplomatic Engagement in Libya: A Collage of Policy, Force and Law" (2012). Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals. 536.