[BOB] ABERNETHY: You have described a theory that you call “preventive humanitarian intervention.” Would you describe what that is.
[WILLIAM] GALSTON: Sure, it’s not that complicated. In the 1990s, there were two episodes of genocidal ethnic cleansing: one in the Balkans, the other in Rwanda. In both cases, the international community waited too long to intervene, and the result was a disaster. Many people in the White House remember that. Some of them were there in policy-making decisions. They were determined not to repeat it. When the Libyan forces were on the edge of Benghazi and Colonel Gaddafi issued a bloodcurdling threat to hunt down the dissidents alley by alley, the administration thought that it had no choice but to act to prevent an impending blood bath, and I think they were right.
ABERNETHY: You’ve also spoken of our two objectives. Spell those out.
GALSTON: We have a humanitarian objective and political objective. The humanitarian objective is to protect innocent civilian life. The political objective, which President Obama articulated some weeks ago, is to secure the exit of Colonel Gaddafi from power.