Congress won’t authorize, but continues war on Libya

By Abayomi Azikiwe /Editor, Pan-African News Wire

As the U.S./NATO war against the North African state of Libya entered its fourth month, the House of Representatives voted on June 24 to withhold authorization for the bombing campaign. In a resolution to support the war, members of Congress turned down the Obama administration’s military strategy by a vote of 295 against and 123 in favor.

This vote reflected the broad opposition to the war inside the United States and internationally as well as the failure of NATO to gain a quick victory. Members of both political parties inside the government opposed the vote to authorize the war, with 70 Democrats rejecting the administration’s argument that the War Powers Act of 1973 does not apply to current operations in Libya. This act, passed during the Vietnam War, supposedly limits the powers of the executive branch of the U.S. government during wartime.

Despite the failure of the vote to authorize the war against Libya, the House rejected a resolution to withhold funds geared toward continuing the U.S./NATO war that began on March 19, after the Western-backed rebels faced imminent defeat by the Libyan government.

According to the New York Times, “The second measure rejected by the House would have essentially prohibited money for direct combat activity, financing only support operations like search and rescue, aerial refueling, operational planning, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Only 180 House members supported the measure, while 238, including 89 Republicans, voted against it.” (June 24)

At the same time, other members of the House and Senate have supported the administration’s policy of war against Libya. Sens. John McCain and John Kerry have drafted a resolution defending the bombing and regime-change strategy against the oil-producing North African state.

NATO’s war strategyEven though it was made to appear that the second resolution would have withdrawn support for the Libya war, the fact that language in the resolution still provided for the continued military involvement — including refueling, operational planning and intelligence — exposes that neither political party supports a just settlement to the conflict in Libya. The arguments have been exclusively centered on procedural issues over who can legally declare war, the administration or Congress — not on unprovoked attacks against a sovereign state and the war’s impact on the civilian population of Libya, where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and thousands killed.

The only response from the White House was to reiterate that the war against Libya does not constitute “hostilities.” Jay Carney, the Obama administration’s spokesperson, said, “We are disappointed by that vote. We think now is not the time to send the kind of mixed message that it sends when we are working with our allies to achieve the goals that we believe are widely shared in Congress.” (New York Times, June 24)

Carney said that the administration is concerned about imposing a no-fly zone as authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. Yet the war has gone far beyond this pseudo-legal rationale for the military onslaught against Libya. U.S./NATO operations have resulted in the imposition of a naval blockade; the freezing of governmental assets of over $50 billion; the dispatching of Central Intelligence Agency operatives; the bombing of schools, houses and government buildings; and targeted assassinations against Muammar Gaddafi, his family and associates in ongoing efforts to topple the state and institute a puppet regime.

In fact, NATO Joint Operations Commander and U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear admitted in a briefing to a Congressperson recently that the military operation against Libya is committed to assassinating leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Atlantic reported that “Rep. Mike Turner, a Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, revealed the conversation to reporter Josh Rogin, confirming what many observers had long suspected about the U.S. and European air strikes. … After all, NATO’s bombs have fallen on, among others, the Bab al-Azizia military compound in Tripoli, which members of the Gaddafi family sometimes used as a home.” (June 27)

The author, Max Fisher, continues by asking the question of whether these targeted assassination attempts are escalating the war in Libya or bringing it to a close.

Although NATO airstrikes continue to result in deaths and casualties, the Western-backed Transitional National Council has accused the imperialist states now bombing the country of not doing enough to remove the Libyan government. The rebels fighting on behalf of the TNC continue to be trapped in the port city of Misrata in the West and are being contained in sections of the Nafusa Mountains on the border with Tunisia.

Outside the rebel-held city of Benghazi, TNC forces have been met with determined resistance from the Libyan army. Even according to CBS News, “The rebels are still stalled to the east in Misrata, complaining NATO doesn’t coordinate air strikes to provide adequate air cover so they can punch through Gaddafi’s forces and move towards Tripoli.” (June 27)

U.S. militarists urge greater involvementU.S. militarists are demanding greater involvement by the Pentagon with the deployment of more fighter aircraft and ground troops. Former Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin stated: “Once we’ve decided to use air power alone, rather than ground troops — and that’s a perfectly logical decision by the president — we have to be patient. Air power doesn’t work like ground troops the way we, say in the first Gulf War, just took over the Iraqi forces and threw them out of Kuwait in a few days.” (CBS News, June 27)

Rubin continued, “But if you want to succeed here, having started this, I think there is a way for the United States to get involved from the front, rather than just supporting the British and the French, and that means more U.S. aircraft, more U.S. missiles and directing the fire much more carefully.”

On June 27 the judges from the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, announced warrants for the arrest of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and other top government officials. Several weeks ago the ICC chief prosecutor had announced that an investigation was underway to indict the leadership of the country.

A statement read out by presiding ICC judge Sanji Monageng said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that three leaders — Muammar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, his son, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi — were “criminally responsible” for killing civilians inside the country. Nonetheless, there was no mention of the nature of the crimes committed by the U.S. and NATO forces inside Libya.

This politically motivated provocation by the ICC is designed to support the imperialist war against Libya aimed at the destabilization of the entire North African region through the assassination of the national leadership of Libya in order to expropriate its resources and install a client regime that will totally serve the interests of Western capitalism. The fact the ICC has never addressed the war crimes committed by the U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan or the U.S./British atrocities in Iraq, let alone the plight of the Palestinians, illustrates clearly that it is a tool of the imperialist states.

Build opposition to war on Libya

There is widespread opposition to the U.S. military involvement in Libya, as well as the other wars taking place in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. A new Gallup poll indicated that 39 percent of the U.S. population supports the bombing. (USA Today, June 24)

Figures released by the U.S. government said that over $700 million has already been spent on the Libyan operation. By September, the cost will be above $1 billion.

The U.S. economy is feeling the impact of the failure of capitalist-driven policies that finance wars of occupation, military bases in many countries around the world, the bailout of the banks, and the rising rates of unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

Community rallies against the war have been held in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York. A national tour features former U.S. Congressperson Cynthia McKinney, Nation of Islam Minister Akbar Muhammad, December 12 Movement spokesperson Viola Plummer, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and Answer leader Brian Becker.

On June 27 a demonstration in New York organized by the United National Anti-War Committee was held against the war with the slogan: “No to trillions for war and destruction of jobs and services!”


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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