Tuesday, June 28, 2011

US Congress Votes to Continue Libya War Without Authorization

US Congress Votes to Continue Libya War Without Authorization

Pentagon out to assassinate Gaddafi while ICC issues arrest warrants

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

As the US/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 in a vote of 295 against and 123 in favor.

This vote reflected the broad opposition to the war inside the United States and internationally. 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 does not apply to the current operations in Libya.

The War Powers Act of 1973 was adopted by the legislative branch of the government under the Nixon administration after the U.S. had been involved in Vietnam since the conclusion of World War II with support for the French imperialists who attempted to maintain the country as its colony. The deployment of “advisors” in 1961 under John F. Kennedy escalated the war even further.

After the assassination of Kennedy in 1963, the war campaign against Vietnam accelerated, and in 1965, Lyndon Johnson sent hundreds of thousands of troops into what was known then as South Vietnam. The U.S. would leave in defeat in April 1975 after the deaths of over a million Vietnamese and 58,000 Pentagon troops.

In the current period both political parties inside the U.S. support the ruling class policy of imperialist domination and military intervention although much trepidation has surfaced resulting from the failures in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya. Despite the failure of the vote to authorize the war against Libya, the House rejected a resolution to withhold funds geared toward continuing the US/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.” (New York Times, June 24)

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

NATO’s War Strategy

Even though it was made to appear that the second resolution would have withdrawn support for the Libya war, the fact that language inside the resolution still provided for the continued military involvement, including refueling, operational planning and intelligence, exposes the fact that neither of the political parties support a just settlement to the conflict inside the country. The arguments have been exclusively centered around procedural issues over who can legally declare war, the administration or Congress, with no discussion about the unprovoked attacks against a sovereign state and the impact of the war on the civilian population of Libya where hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and thousand 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 that “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 the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, yet the war has gone far beyond this pseudo-legal rationale for the military onslaught against Libya. US/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 (CIA) operatives, the bombing of schools, houses, government buildings, 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 Congressman 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.” (The Atlantic, June 27)

This same article notes that “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. “ 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 the NATO airstrikes continue to result in deaths and casualties, including the attacks on the oil-producing city of Brega killing 20 people and wounding many others, the western-backed Transitional National Council (TNC) 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 have continued 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, the 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.” (CBS News, June 27)

Militarists inside the U.S. are demanding greater involvement by the Pentagon with the deployment of more fighter aircraft and ground troops. The former Asst. Secretary of State Jamie Rubin was quoted as saying that “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 saying “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.”

ICC Warrants Issued Against Libyan Leaders

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 of the North African country.

It was the U.S. and NATO that dispatched intelligence operatives to eastern Libya in a plot to support rebels aimed at overthrowing the government. Since March 19, the U.S. and NATO jets and warships have pounded the country with thousands of bombs and missiles.

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 place in power a client-regime that will totally serve the interests of the western capitalist states. The fact the ICC has never addressed the war crimes committed by the US/NATO forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan or the US/UK atrocities in Iraq, let alone the plight of the Palestinians, illustrates clearly that it is a tool of the imperialist states.

The Need to Build Opposition to the Libyan War

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 recent poll indicated that at least 60 percent of the population inside the U.S. opposes the bombing.

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 one billion dollars.

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 bail out of the banks and the rising rates of unemployment, homelessness and poverty.

In addition to the debates in Congress, there are other forms of opposition that are not covered by the corporate media. Since the beginning of the Libya war, many progressive and revolutionary journalists and organizers have spoken out forcefully against the destabilization and bombing of the country.

Community rallies against the war have been held in Detroit, Los Angeles and New York. A national tour featuring former US Congressperson Cynthia McKinney, Nation of Islam Minister Akbar Muhammad, December 12 Movement spokesperson Viola Plummer, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ANSWER leader Brian Becker has visited several cities during June. On June 27 a demonstration was held against the war in New York organized by the United National Anti-War Committee (UNAC) which said “No to trillions for war and destruction of jobs and services!”

The demonstration linked the worsening conditions of the working class and the oppressed nations to the escalation in imperialist war in North Africa and around the world. UNAC was the principal organizer of the April 9 demonstrations in New York and San Francisco that brought thousands into the streets demanding an end to war and repression and the funding of schools, healthcare and a jobs program.

UNAC is planning for another national conference in November. The coalition was formed in the summer of 2010 when over 1,000 people attended its founding meeting in Albany, New York where strong resolutions were passed opposing U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, Africa, Korea and Latin America and in support of the right of self-determination and statehood for the Palestinian people.

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