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Once again, the peace movement is being challenged to offer an alternative to a violent intervention with inherently indiscriminate and destructive air-launched weapons. We know that 20%+ of these weapons are probably missing their targets and killing civilians, but proponents of Western intervention frame the issue with the perennial straw man of "doing nothing" or "allowing Gaddafi to massacre his people".
Here is an alternative strategy that was proposed in a letter to the Security Council on March 16th by Louise Arbour and the International Crisis Group. Louise Arbour is the former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, a former Supreme Court Justice in Canada and the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. We may each disagree with some of the particulars of Ms. Arbour's proposal, but it makes the point that there were and are real alternatives to the course chosen by our leaders:
Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya with Depleted Uranium as They 'Protect' Civilians?
By Dave Lindorff
President Obama’s criminal launch of an undeclared and Congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may be compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country.
This is latest concern of groups like the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of so-called depleted-uranium (DU) anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.
Images of Libyan civilians and rebels celebrating around the burning hulks of the Libyan army’s tanks and armored personnel carriers, which had been hit by US, French and British aircraft ordnance in the early hours of the US-led assault on the forces of Col. Muammar Gaddafy, could well have been unknowingly inhaling the deadly dust of the uranium weapons favored by Western military forces for anti-tank warfare.
In addition to the forthcoming amendments from Kucinich and Johnson, already blogged here, to defund the war on Libya, here is the already introduced resolution from Ron Paul requiring that Congress vote on whether or not to make war on Libya (even though the Pentagon has plenty of money to not give a damn).
From the News Gazette:
U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, R-Urbana, who already opposes U.S. involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, today said he would introduce legislation to de-fund military action in Libya.
The six-term Republican said he would work with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., a freshman congressman, to draft legislation declaring the action unconstitutional.
“Constitutionally, it is indisputable that Congress must be consulted prior to an act of war unless there is an imminent threat against this country. The president has not done so,” Johnson said. “In fact, this is the same man who questioned President Bush’s constitutional authority to commit troops to war.
Western Aggression on Libya - by Stephen Lendman
Make no mistake. Another Washington-led resource war targets Libya's riches, besides wanting new US base locations for greater regional dominance.
America doesn't covet regional sun, sand and sea. "Humanitarian intervention" is a lie. So are notions about peace, not war, liberation, equity, justice, and other democratic values. Washington tolerates none of them abroad or at home, plundering the world roguishly.
All US presidents are war criminals. Obama is one of the worst, doubling Bush's lawlessness, adding Pakistan and Libya aggression to Iraq and Afghanistan, spending $1.5 trillion annually for militarism plus multi-trillion dollar handouts to Wall Street crooks, while pleading poverty to cut essential homeland social benefits.
Amendment Would Deny Funds for the Military Offensive in Libya
Washington D.C. (March 22, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today announced that he will offer an amendment that would prohibit federal funds from being used to fund military operations in Libya. The amendment would be offered to the next funding measure Congress considers.
Kucinich sent the following letter to fellow Members of Congress:
War Is More than Boots on the Ground
Support an Amendment to End Military Involvement in Libya
Congress held an emergency meeting to defund NPR, and then did nothing as the President spent vastly more money on bombing Libya. President Obama didn't have to ask for the funding, because the Pentagon had enough lying around for just such an occasion.
A fundamental lie that keeps war going is the idea that we avoid war by preparing for it. "Speak softly and carry a big stick," said Theodore Roosevelt, who favored building a big military just in case, but of course not actually using it unless forced to.
This worked out excellently, with the few minor exceptions of Roosevelt's mobilization of forces to Panama in 1901, Colombia in 1902, Honduras in 1903, the Dominican Republic in 1903, Syria in 1903, Abyssinia in 1903, Panama in 1903, the Dominican Republic in 1904, Morocco in 1904, Panama in 1904, Korea in 1904, Cuba in 1906, Honduras in 1907, and the Philippines throughout Roosevelt's presidency.
Lies, Damn Lies, and Humanitarian Intervention - by Stephen Lendman
Masquerading as "humanitarian intervention," Washington launched full-force barbarism on six million Libyans, all endangered by America's latest intervention. More on how below.
Beginning March 19, it was visible. However, months of planning preceded it, including US and UK special forces and intelligence operatives on the ground enlisting, inciting, funding, arming and supporting violent insurrection to oust Gaddafi and replace him with a Washington-controlled puppet like in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The scrip is familiar, playing out now in Libya - full-scale "imperial barbarism," a term James Petras used in a September 2010 article titled, "Imperialism and Imperial Barbarism," saying:
"The organizing principle of imperial barbarism is the idea of total war," including:
-- use of mass destruction weapons, unleashed on Libya as explained below;
By Marjorie Cohn
Since Saturday night, the United States, France, and Britain have been bombing Libya with cruise missiles, B-2 stealth bombers, F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, and Harrier attack jets. There is no reliable estimate of the number of civilians killed. The U.S. has taken the lead in the punishing bombing campaign to carry out United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.
The resolution authorizes UN Member States “to take all necessary measures . . . to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” The military action taken exceeds the bounds of the “all necessary measures” authorization.
By Sylvia Pfeifer and Javier Blas in London, Financial Times
Western oil companies operating in Libya have privately warned that their operations in the country may be nationalised if Colonel Muammer Gaddafi’s regime prevails.
Executives, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the rapidly moving situation, believe their companies could be targeted, especially if their home countries are taking part in air strikes against Mr Gaddafi. Allied forces from France, the UK and the US on Saturday unleashed a series of strikes against military targets in Libya.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich just tweeted: "When #Congress returns, will propose an amendment to the next Continuing Resolution to eliminate funds for #Libya intervention"
Sen. Webb Says President Wrongly Making War Without Congress, Admits It's About Oil, Takes No Action
It is time for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to live up to their constitutional responsibilities as a co-equal branch of government and have a vigorous, public debate on whether to authorize the use of force in Libya.
I oppose this latest military adventure because:
1. Given Gaddafi's track record of using civilians as human shields, a no-fly zone will require striking targets within Libyan population centers that may cause civilian casualties and turn the Libyan people, currently fighting for freedom against a cruel tyrant, against the west and strengthen Gaddafi's hand in the process.
2. Enforcement of a no-fly zone may lead to US casualties which the American people have not at all been prepared for or asked to accept.
3. Taking sides in a Libyan civil war may require a follow up commitment by the United States of indeterminate length, cost and lives.
By John Grant
A contingent of 20 right-wing veterans with flags and signs declaring their devotion to “our troops,” marched up to the blocked-off Pennsylvania Avenue area in front of the White House. One of the men wore a blue shirt with Army Security Agency printed on it.
“I was in the ASA,” I said to the man, attempting some kind of cordial dialogue. At nineteen, I had been an Army Security Agency radio direction finder in the mountains west of Pleiku.
The heavy-set man glowered at me and said: “I’m sorry to hear that.” It was as if he were somehow the arbiter of who was, and who wasn’t, a good American, as if he alone gave a damn about "our troops."
I shot back at him: “So, what the hell does that mean?” He turned away, and I moved on. So much for dialogue.
This speech was given in Wilmington, Delaware, on March 20, 2011. Dahlia Wasfi and Dave Lindorff spoke as well and then the three speakers took questions together. (See additional videos.) The event was organized by June Eisley and sponsored by Pacem in Terris.
Imperial War on Libya - by Stephen Lendman
On March 19, ironically on the eighth anniversary of "Operation Iraqi Freedom," a White House Office of the Press Secretary quoted Obama saying:
"Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to (attack) Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians," he, in fact, doesn't give a damn about. "That action has now begun," he added, claiming military action was a last resort.
In fact, it was long-planned. All military interventions require months of preparation, including target selections, strategy, enlisting political and public support, troop deployments, and post-conflict plans.
Weeks, maybe months in advance, Special Forces, CIA agents, and UK SAS operatives were in Libya, enlisting, inciting, funding, and arming so-called anti-Gaddafi opposition forces, ahead of Western aggression for imperial control. More on it below.
A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.
Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.
Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn’t object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for American participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone during a White House Situation Room meeting on Friday, sources told POLITICO.
And liberals fumed that Congress hadn’t been formally consulted before the attack and expressed concern that it would lead to a third U.S. war in the Muslim world.
Gadhafi's LatAm allies criticize military strikes
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Ian James, Associated Press
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez condemned military strikes against Libya on Saturday, accusing the United States and its European allies of attacking the country to seize its oil.
Chavez's ally and mentor Fidel Castro raised similar concerns in a column written before the first strikes, while Bolivian President Evo Morales also accused world powers of intervening with an eye to the North African country's oil.
Chavez, who has long-standing ties to Moammar Gadhafi, has urged mediation and called it "disgusting" that the U.S., France and other countries are taking military action.
"More death, more war. They are the masters of war," Chavez said. "What irresponsibility. And behind that is the hand of the United States and its European allies."
"They want to seize Libya's oil. The lives of Libya's people don't matter to them at all," Chavez said. "It is deplorable that once again the warmongering policy of the Yankee empire and its allies is being imposed, and it is deplorable that the United Nations lends itself to supporting war, infringing on its fundamental principles instead of urgently forming a commission to go to Libya."
HANDS OFF LIBYA: STOP THE BOMBING NOW
SUNDAY 20 MARCH 3-4PM
DOWNING ST, WHITEHALL, LONDON
Britain and the USA have bombed Libya with more than one hundred Tomahawk
cruise missiles. These are not precision guided weapons but weapons of mass
destruction that will create many civilian casualties in Libya.
The United Nations resolution authorising a no-fly zone begins as it will
continue, with a full-scale military attack on the country.
Stop the War condemns this barbarous attack which will result, not in
protecting the people of Libya, but in enslaving them under the domination of
the West. We know only too well the death and destruction that imperialism has
brought to the peoples of the region.
Washington's UN War Resolution on Libya - by Stephen Lendman
On March 18, Washington bullied Security Council members to approve Resolution 1973, a measure authorizing war on Libya. The 10 - 0 vote included five abstentions from China, Russia, Germany, Brazil and India, objecting to sweeping terms, including wide latitude for belligerence on bogus "humanitarian" grounds.
In fact, it's to replace one despot with another, perhaps assassinate Gaddafi, colonize Libya, control its oil, gas and other resources, exploit its people, privatize its state industries under Western control, establish new US bases, use them for greater regional control, and perhaps balkanize the country like Yugoslavia and Iraq.
A same day White House press release headlined, "Readout of President Obama's Calls with (UK) Prime Minister Cameron and (French) President Sarkozy," saying:
STOP THE WAR COALITION
Newsletter No. 1193
19 March 2011
Tel: 020 7801 2768
IN THIS NEWSLETTER:
1) STOP THE WAR STATEMENT: UN DECLARATION OF WAR ON LIBYA
2) VIDEOS: JEREMY CORBYN MP, LINDSEY GERMAN, JOHN REES
3) PETITIONS AND LEAFLETS
1) STOP THE WAR STATEMENT: UN DECLARATION OF WAR ON LIBYA
A new war has been declared in the Middle East. With the bloody and failing
occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan still in place, the USA, Britain and France
are now committed to an escalating armed intervention in Libya.
The decision to attack Libya and impose regime change – for that is what the
UN resolution means – may have been authorised by the Security Council. But
it was instigated by the despots of the Arab League, desperate to secure deeper
U.S. Military Action Against Libya Absent Imminent Threat or Congressional Approval Outside the Legal Scope of the Presidency
Obama v. Obama
Senator Barack Obama, December 20, 2007, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
Washington D.C. (March 18, 2011) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement and letter to Congressional leaders after the President announced that the United States will support a United Nations-approved attack on Libya:
By Andrew Murray
National Chair, Stop the War Coalition
14 March 2011
The political campaign to launch a military intervention in Libya – ostensibly on humanitarian grounds but with patently political ends in sight – is gathering steam among the NATO powers. A “no-fly zone” has now been urged by the Arab League – for the most part a collection of frightened despots desperate to get the US military still more deeply involved in the region. That would be the start of a journey down slippery slope.
Here are ten reasons to resist the siren calls for intervention:
- Intervention will violate Libya’s sovereignty. This is not just a legalistic point – although the importance of observing international law should not be discounted if the big powers in the world are not to be given the green light run amok. As soon as NATO starts to intervene, the Libyan people will start to lose control of their own country and future.
- Intervention can only prolong, not end the civil war. “No-fly zones” will not be able to halt the conflict and will lead to more bloodshed, not less.
- Intervention will lead to escalation. Because the measures being advocated today cannot bring an end to the civil war, the next demand will be for a full-scale armed presence in Libya, as in Iraq – and meeting the same continuing resistance. That way lies decades of conflict.
- This is not Spain in 1936, when non-intervention meant helping the fascist side which, if victorious in the conflict, would only encourage the instigators of a wider war – as it did. Here, the powers clamouring for military action are the ones already fighting a wider war across the Middle East and looking to preserve their power even as they lose their autocratic allies. Respecting Libya’s sovereignty is the cause of peace, not its enemy.
- It is more like Iraq in the 1990s, after the First Gulf War. Then, the US, Britain and France imposed no-fly zones which did not lead to peace – the two parties in protected Iraqi Kurdistan fought a bitter civil war under the protection of the no-fly zone – and did prepare the ground for the invasion of 2003. Intervention may partition Libya and institutionalise conflict for decades.
- Or it is more like the situation in Kosovo and Bosnia. NATO interference has not lead to peace, reconciliation or genuine freedom in the Balkans, just to endless corrupt occupations.
- Yes, it is about oil. Why the talk of intervening in Libya, but not the Congo, for example? Ask BP.
- It is also about pressure on Egyptian revolution – the biggest threat to imperial interests in the region. A NATO garrison next door would be a base for pressure at least, and intervention at worst, if Egyptian freedom flowers to the point where it challenges western interests in the region.
- The hypocrisy gives the game away. When the people of Bahrain rose against their US-backed monarchy and were cut down in the streets, there was no talk of action, even though the US sixth fleet is based there and could doubtless have imposed a solution in short order. As top US republican Senator Lindsey Graham observed last month “there are regimes we want to change, and those we don’t”. NATO will only ever intervene to strangle genuine social revolution, never to support it.
- Military aggression in Libya – to give it the righty name – will be used to revive the blood-soaked policy of ‘liberal interventionism’. That beast cannot be allowed to rise from the graves of Iraq and Afghanistan.
High Stakes, ElectricPolitics
The Obama administration has yet to explain, apart from vague humanitarian concerns, whether a direct U.S. national security interest is at stake in Libya's internal strife. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton is waffling her way toward war. What this could ultimately entail remains unknown but given yesterday's affirmative vote in the UN Security Council some sort of intervention is bound to materialize. To talk about a no fly zone and related issues I turned to Lt. Gen. Tad J. Oelstrom (USAF, Ret.), a veteran combat pilot and prominent national security expert. Before our conversation I had no advance knowledge whatsoever of the General's views — I was pleased, then, to find we see things very much in the same way. Total runtime forty four minutes. War is not for amateurs.
The problem with bombing Libya is not hypocrisy. Better a good thing once than consistent bad performance, after all. The problem is that war is uncontrollable, usually spreads, always kills, rarely achieves its objective, creates blowback (al Qaeda wants the US in Libya for its recruitment purposes), costs a fortune, and maintains imperial interests.
While the US props up all the nearby dictators and arms them, including in Bahrain, and was doing the same for Gadaffi until about 5 mins ago, it's switched sides in Libya. This doesn't just look bad. It is bad: the US wants to control someone else's country.
When the Iraqi govt murders and tortures after years of US involvement, who cries out for the solution of US involvement? When the Afghan govt or Bahraini govt does so, what then? No fly zones were themselves genocidal in Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Saudi Arabia is helping out Bahrain, by the way. Nations joining in each other's violence or spreading around the weapons we've provided them is not good news.
There is not a well-intentioned world police force at work here, and the bad intentions will lead to very bad places and are not the only option. Other options include humanitarian aid, nonviolence training, and communicating to Libya the seriousness of US support for local rule and democracy by cutting off the dictators we're backing all over the region.
"In a war that's being fought for the benefit of the Iraqi (read Libyan) people, you can't afford to kill any of them. But you can't drop bombs and not kill people. There's a real dichotomy in all of this."
- Rob Hewson, Editor of Jane's Air Launched Weapons, April 1st 2003.
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Larry Korb told the BBC today that Libya has about 50 air defense sites and that most of them are located in populated areas. If U.S. planes dropped only two "precision-guided" bombs on each of them, the chances are that at least 20 of those bombs would miss their targets and hit something or somebody else.