Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, addressing an African American History Month forum in Detroit on February 28, 2009. (Photo: Cheryl LaBash), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
House Vote Fails to End War in Libya
Passed resolution lacks call to end onslaught immediately
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
An historic vote on the application of the 1973 War Powers Resolution that grew out of the struggle to end the United States occupation of Vietnam, upheld the administration’s continuation of the large-scale bombings aimed at overthrowing the government of Libya. Since March 19, the Pentagon and NATO forces have carried out thousands of bombing missions over this oil-producing North African state despite the lack of any explanation or consultation with the Congress, let alone the people inside the U.S.
On June 3 Congress took up two resolutions related to the war against Libya. One of the resolutions sponsored by Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich called for the cessation of hostilities against Libya within 15 days. Another resolution sponsored by the Republican House Speaker John Boehner, also of Ohio, criticized the Obama administration for not seeking approval for the Libyan war, but allows the bombing and regime-change policy to continue.
The Kucinich resolution was voted down 265-148 and the Boehner-sponsored initiative passed 268-145. The Boehner resolution called for the banning of ground troops and a detailed review of Libya policy from the White House within 14 days.
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 UN Resolution 1973. McCain visited the rebel-held city of Benghazi several weeks earlier and called for the Obama administration to recognize the rebel forces as the “legitimate government” of Libya.
Kucinich in a letter to members of Congress asked “How do we deal with the failure of 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.” (Kucinich Letter to Congress, June 3)
This vote on June 3 followed widespread criticism and condemnation of the US/NATO war against Libya. On April 9-10 thousands demonstrated in both New York and San Francisco against all of the wars of occupation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine as well as Libya.
An International Action Center (IAC) petition to the U.S. 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 inside the country and internationally.
Nonetheless, even those inside the ruling Democratic Party such as Kucinich pointed out that “Though many of us may want to support our president, the president has ignored Congress’ assertion of the war power by failing to obey the War Powers Resolution. Congress fought for this power in 1973 when it passed the War Powers Resolution over a presidential veto. My resolution requires the president to abide by the statutory obligation of the War Powers Resolution by ending U.S. involvement in military operations in Libya.”
In conclusion Kucinich stressed that “Our loyalty to NATO and to our president, regardless of party affiliation, does not trump our loyalty to the United States Constitution.” Yet 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 and the 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 on June when positions were struck in the eastern oil-producing city of Brega. In addition French Gozelle 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 Gozelles and Tiger helicopters destroyed 15 Libyan military vehicles and five army command posts. Yet the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 that provided the pseudo-legal and political justification for the war against Libya was purportedly only geared towards implementing a “no-fly zone” to protect civilians.
Not surprisingly however, the passage of UN Resolution 1973 was utilized to launch a full-scale attack against Libya that would not only result in deaths of civilians, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the dislocation of its people, but would ultimately seek the removal of the Gaddafi government and the installation of a pro-western puppet regime.
Despite the aerial assault and naval blockade against the Libyan people for nearly three months, the government has not fallen and has prevented the opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) from extending their influence outside of Benghazi and other areas in the east of the country. The western port city of Misrata has been virtually destroyed by the NATO forces and their rebel allies in order to establish a beachhead against the government in this region of the country.
In further attempts to disrupt Libyan governmental operations, NATO aircraft bombed the state broadcasting facilities on June 6. In the west of the country fighting has escalated in the city of Yefren that is located the Nafusa Mountains.
Ground Invasion Anticipated as Refugees Die at Sea
There are continuing reports that the NATO forces are preparing for a ground invasion of Libya. According to the website huliq.com, “Western forces have been spotted on the ground in Libya in video footage from Al-Jazeera.” (May 31)
The report indicated that “the six men could have been British soldiers. They also left ‘hurriedly’ when they saw the Al-Jazeera cameras trained on them.”
This is further confirmation of numerous other reports that have been published since early March that British special forces, MI-6, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and Egyptian special forces have been operating in Libya assisting the rebel TNC.
Meanwhile the plight of refugees fleeing from the fighting in Libya 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 that “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.” (June 5)
Consequently 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.