The Obama administration didn’t really go to war to stop Moammar Gadhafi from committing human rights violations—or at least that wasn’t the only reason, sources tell Massimo Calabresi of Time. Senior officials say that many who pushed for the war pitched it in part as a way to rehabilitate the idea of humanitarian military intervention, a doctrine rendered toxic by the Iraq war. In other words, they wanted to give the US the green light to prevent atrocities in the future.
These officials say Gadhafi has not quite done enough to justify action on humanitarian grounds alone, since reports of "potential war crimes" are unconfirmed. “The effort to shoe-horn this into an imminent genocide model is strained,” says one senior administration official, who characterizes the attack as “a huge gamble.” Nor was the decision unanimous. “Gates tried to stop it,” says another official. But the interventionists, who included Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice, won out.