Moral absolutists will reject the cease-fire proposed by Africa’s leaders. But NATO and the U.N. should fix what they can and see if they can stop this fighting. Westerners who rushed to the defence of the Libyan rebels bridle at the thought of any cease-fire proposal that doesn’t require Col. Gaddafi’s removal from power. Indeed, Libyan rebels have already rejected the proposal by African leaders that restricts itself to a straight cease-fire and puts off other contentious issues.
But NATO leaders would be dead wrong to reject the African proposal out of hand. They would be wrong to let the absolutists and the rebels let the war go on until they have everything they want, no matter what the costs.
For all the holes in the African initiative, it does start the ball rolling toward a possible cease-fire. At the very least, U.S. leaders owe it to Americans to explore the ideas seriously, perhaps through NATO or the U.N. Security Council. And the moral war-mongers can always console themselves with the thought that if these cease-fire talks collapse, all parties can resume the killing in the name of freedom and humanity.