House vote fails to end war in Libya

By Abayomi Azikiwe/Editor, Pan-African News Wire

A historic vote on the application of the 1973 War Powers Resolution has upheld the Obama administration’s continuation of large-scale bombings aimed at overthrowing the government of Libya.

The War Powers Resolution was passed as the result of the struggle to end the U.S. occupation of Vietnam.

Since March 19 the Pentagon and NATO forces have carried out thousands of bombing missions on the oil-producing North African state of Libya, despite the lack of any explanation or consultation with Congress, let alone the people of the U.S.

On June 3 the House of Representatives took up two resolutions related to the war against Libya. The one sponsored by Ohio Congressperson Dennis Kucinich called for the cessation of hostilities against Libya within 15 days. The other, sponsored by Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, criticized the Obama administration for not seeking approval for the Libyan war, but allowed the bombing and regime-change policy to continue.

The Kucinich resolution was voted down 265-148, while the Boehner-sponsored initiative passed 268-145. The Boehner resolution called for banning ground troops and a detailed review of Libya policy from the White House within 14 days.

In a letter to members of Congress, Kucinich asked: “How do we deal with the failure of a President to adhere to the Constitution? If Congress does not challenge a President’s dismissal of the clear meaning of Article 1, Section 8, then we will have tacitly endorsed a President’s violation of the Constitution and guaranteed the perpetuation of future constitutional transgressions. A mild rebuke alone of the usurpation of a constitutionally mandated war power is insufficient to defend the Constitution.” (thenation.com, June 3)

A Senate resolution, co-sponsored by Republican John McCain of Arizona and Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts, supported the ongoing bombing under the guise of enforcing U.N. Resolution 1973. Several weeks earlier McCain visited the rebel-held city of Benghazi and called for the Obama administration to recognize the rebel forces as the “legitimate government” of Libya.

The June 3 vote followed widespread criticism and condemnation of the U.S./NATO war against Libya. On April 9-10 thousands demonstrated in both New York and San Francisco against all wars of occupation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine as well as Libya.

An International Action Center petition to Congress drew attention to the violation of constitutional law even within the imperialist government’s own legal system. Although the petition probably played a role in prompting a debate within Congress, the majority within the House of Representatives went on to uphold the illegal war.

The IAC is an anti-war and anti-imperialist organization and is committed to defending and supporting the right of oppressed nations to self-determination. Its opposition to the regime-change policy against Libya speaks to a deeper level of crisis within the U.S. political system, where wars are initiated and continued in contravention to massive opposition from the people within the country and internationally.

Kucinich stressed: “Our loyalty to NATO and to our President, regardless of party affiliation, does not trump our loyalty to the United States Constitution.” Yet it should be remembered that the U.S. Constitution grew out of the settler-colonial quest for land, resources and slave labor that resulted in the enslavement of Africans and the repression and exploitation of working people and the oppressed as a whole.

The current war against Libya represents the continuation of the imperialist legacy of the U.S. under successive Democratic and Republican administrations. There has not been any serious consideration of the will of the people in regard to the war against Libya, nor in regard to other theaters of conflict and oppression that are directly or indirectly supported by Washington.

NATO war intensifies

British “Apache” attack helicopters were introduced against the Libyan people in June, when positions were struck in the eastern oil-producing city of Brega. In addition, French Gazelle and Tiger helicopters carried out attacks in the same region.

In order to justify the usage of these helicopters in what is being called “Operation Unified Protector,” NATO forces claimed that the Gazelle and Tiger helicopters destroyed 15 Libyan military vehicles and five army command posts. Yet U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which provided the pseudo-legal and political justification for the war against Libya, was purportedly only geared toward implementing a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians.

Not surprisingly, passage of U.N. Resolution 1973 was utilized to launch a full-scale attack against Libya that not only has resulted in deaths of civilians, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the dislocation of its people, but ultimately sought the removal of the government of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi and the installation of a pro-Western puppet regime.

Despite an aerial assault and naval blockade against the Libyan people that has lasted for nearly three months, the government has not fallen and has prevented the opposition Transitional National Council from extending its influence outside of Benghazi and other areas in the east of the country. The western port city of Misrata has been virtually destroyed by NATO forces and their rebel allies in order to establish a beachhead against the government in that region.

In further attempts to disrupt Libyan governmental operations, NATO aircraft bombed the state broadcasting facilities on June 6. In the western part of the country, fighting has escalated in the city of Yefren, located in the Nafusa Mountains.

Ground invasion anticipated as refugees die at sea

There are continuing reports that NATO forces are preparing for a ground invasion of Libya. The Guardian in Britain reported that video footage from Al-Jazeera reveals the presence of Western troops in the country. In the video, the report states, a group of men “is seen talking to rebels and then quickly leaving on being spotted by the television crew.” (May 30)

This is further confirmation of numerous other reports that have been published since early March that British special forces, MI-6, the CIA and Egyptian special forces have been operating in Libya, assisting the rebel TNC.

Meanwhile the plight of refugees fleeing from the fighting has worsened. Tunisian Coast Guard officials reported on June 5 that the bodies of 26 people were found after drowning in the Mediterranean Sea.

A Reuters press agency report revealed June 5: “A small flotilla of fishing boats overloaded with refugees was stranded for days off Tunisia’s coast, and when help arrived, some boats capsized as people stampeded to get off, sending some into the water, aid officials said. Tunisian officials say the death toll could eventually reach about 250.”

The humanitarian situation in the North Africa region is reaching critical proportions. Anti-war forces must continue to protest the war and demand a ceasefire and the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO troops from the country.

Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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