Has anyone noticed that Libya and the democracy movements in the Middle East (or really, anything anywhere else) have all dropped off the media cycle? With the tragedy playing out in Japan, from thousands still missing to fifty people working to contain radioactive nuclear waste, its understandable that people get desensitized and/or overwhelmed by the sheer amount of horrible things that happen around the world.
A quick look at the BBC website tells me that among the things that got buried in the last 24-hours include continuing violence in Libya, dismantling the internal security agency in Egypt and a massive outbreak of cholera in Haiti. In a world in which consequences are interconnected and the attention of the international community is needed to prevent some situations from getting out of hand, it feels like there are too many fires and not nearly enough firefighters.
One response is to be passive and just let circumstances wash over you. The active response requires people to take a stand and take their leaders to task. By remembering the foreign policy commitments our heads of state have made to make the world we live in a safer place that contains security and human rights, constituents can help make sure that leaders need to do what they said that they were going to do- mainly to lead. Leadership is about making tough decisions even though they may be unpopular or difficult, such as committing scarce resources on focusing on sanctions or possible intervention in Libya before the unrest escalates throughout the region (see Bahrain– extremely worrisome due to the Saudi involvement). Though it may not be easy, sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice short-term victories to achieve long-term goals.