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War on Libya: U.S. air strikes, cruise missile attacks begin

Commentary by Kosta Harlan |
March 19, 2011
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Protest sign from March 19: U.S. hands off the Arab revolution!
Protest sign from March 19: U.S. hands off the Arab revolution! (Fight Back! News/Staff)

With missiles from French fighter jets and cruise missiles from U.S. naval forces stationed off the coast of Libya, the large scale foreign intervention aimed at overthrowing the Libyan government began on Saturday March 19 – exactly eight years after the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq began.

The air strikes come just 48 hours after the UN Security Council voted – with abstentions from China, Russia, Brazil, India, and Germany – to implement a “no fly zone” over Libya.

U.S. military leads the way in “Operation Odyssey Dawn”

The U.S. Department of Defense noted that “U.S. military forces are on the leading edge of the coalition operation, taking out Libya’s integrated air and missile defense system”. The military operation is called “Operation Odyssey Dawn”.

The U.S. began its assault in Libya with 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles (at a cost of about $756,000 each) launched from U.S. submarines and frigates. Twenty-five naval frigates from the U.S., the United Kingdom, France and Canada are positioned off the coast of Libya, ready to launch further strikes on the country.

Meanwhile, French fighter jets were reported to have bombed a number of targets in Libya. Libyan state television is also reporting that Libya’s air defenses shot down a French fighter jet, although this has not yet been confirmed.

Military officials have pointed out that the current assault is only the first phase of the intervention. It is not yet clear what the second phase will encompass, but Al Jazeera is reporting that the targets will include ground forces and tanks.

The air strikes and attacks on Libya took place despite the invitation from Libya’s government to bring international observers into the country. Khaled Kaim, Libya's deputy foreign minister, told the BBC, "the ceasefire is real, credible and solid. We are willing to receive observers as soon as possible".

President Obama spoke as the assault began, noting that U.S. forces were “responding to calls of a threatened people”. However, Obama made no mention of the threatened peoples and ongoing massacres of protestors in U.S.-backed dictatorships in Yemen and Bahrain.

People of Libya resist foreign intervention

Since the beginning of the current crisis, the media has portrayed the conflict in Libya as a struggle between the overwhelming majority of Libya’s people and a dictatorship lacking any credibility or popular support.

But whatever one’s view of Colonel Gaddafi or the existing regime, if one looks past the pro-war propaganda, it is sufficiently clear that what is taking place in Libya more accurately resembles a civil war than a situation like Egypt or Tunisia. In those countries, overwhelming numbers of people demanded the fall of the regime, and the military and police forces of those governments were unable to suppress the revolt.

But in Libya it is clear that just as there are significant numbers of people opposed to the regime, there are also masses of people who support the existing government and are willing to fight for it.

Recall that just 72 hours ago, the rebel forces headquartered in Benghazi were nearly routed, and many talked about the collapse of the rebellion.

And on February 15, as the crisis was beginning to unfold, thousands of people rallied in cities across Libya in support of the government.

Al Jazeera is currently reporting that hundreds of people are camped out at Colonel Gaddafi’s home at Bab al-Aziziyah, to protect it from possible air strikes, while thousands are reported to have attended rallies on March 19 in the capitol Tripoli against foreign intervention.

Rather than so-called “humanitarian intervention” in defense of the overwhelming majority of people, what is taking place is a military intervention on one side of a civil war.

Progressives must defend the right of the Libyan people to self-determination. It is not the place of western and historically colonial powers to intervene in the affairs of Libya. Whatever problems exist with Libyan society and government are best dealt with by the people of Libya, and not by imperialistic powers.

The real reason for intervention in Libya

Foreign intervention will not result in self-determination or independence for the Libyan people.

Those who today defend the necessity for “liberation by cruise missile” in Libya should think about what took place in Iraq over the last twenty years.

Like Libya, Iraq has massive oil reserves and occupies a strategic location in the region.

Like Libya’s Gaddafi, Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein was depicted in racist terms by the corporate media and as a “mad man” intent on oppressing his own people; and that military intervention in Iraq was for “humanitarian” purposes.

In Iraq, the no fly zone resulted in thousands of air strikes that killed many civilians and patriotic Iraqis over several years. The no fly zone ultimately led to a declaration of war, invasion, and occupation that killed over 1,000,000 Iraqis, utterly devastated the country, and destroyed an independent, sovereign nation in the Middle East.

The U.S., U.K., French, and Canadian forces are not humanitarians. Their cruise missiles, naval frigates, bombs, bullets and troops will do nothing to improve the situation for the people of Libya or anywhere else in the region.

They are opportunistically seeking to seize control of Libya’s vast oil reserves – the largest reserves in the African continent – and re-assert dominance in a region that is shaking from a powerful storm of revolutions against corrupt U.S.-backed dictatorships.

U.S. anti-war movement calls to end U.S. intervention in Libya

The same day that the air strikes began in Libya, tens of thousands were protesting in the United States to mark the 8th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. At many of these demonstrations, calls to end the U.S. aggression against Libya were being heard.

On April 9, thousands of people will converge again in New York City and San Francisco to protest the Iraq, Afghanistan wars, and now the assault in Libya. While progressive forces in the U.S. have held sharply differing views on the nature of the conflict in Libya, the entire progressive movement can and must unite on the basis of opposing further U.S. attacks on Libya and supporting the right of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny, free from foreign interference.

 

12 comments

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 1 week ago

Well! you all need to check

Well!
you all need to check the news from Russia and places that United States do not care so much.
Libya's war was a mistake, the news that they broadcast is false in US. Watch the Russian news which unravel so many mysteries of the libya' s war. We only can shut up and watch. the news shows young libyan girls fighting for Kadaffi. He gave the people free housing, education, electricity. He urged the rebel to stop the shooting. They caught him because he insisted to go pray in his hometown. whoever shouted Allah and could not forgive the one who tried to find his way to pray for God. Shame on that person who killed and not asking why I am killing. Go search the truth.

 
MPIIMA.PATRICK wrote 3 years 27 weeks ago

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AFRICA!.

AFRICANS,IT`S THE RIGHT TIME TO STAND AS ONE IN A FIGHT AGAINST DICTATORS,WE HAVE NOTHING TO LOOSE BUT A LOT TO GAIN,OUR LEADERS ARE WASTING MONEY OBTAINED FROM THE RICH MINERALS TO BUY WEAPONS IN QUEST FOR POWER YET WE THE NATIVES ARE SUFFERING AND LIVING IN HIGH POVERTY LEVELS,IF THE WEST HAVE COME TO GIVE A HELPING HAND,LETS STAND BY THEM AND WE FIGHT FOR WHAT BELONGS TO US,A REVOLUTION IN AFRICAN DEMOCRACY HAS JUST BEGAN AND AM SURE THAT IN 10 YEARS,ALMOST 20 DICTATOR REGIMES IN AFRICA WILL COLLAPSE!.LEADERS, WORK ON THE WILL OF PEOPLE BUT NOT THE VICE-VERSO.
WE CAN ALSO WAKE UP ONE DAY AND BOOST OF PIECE,DEMOCRACY,AND GOOD STANDARDS OF LIVING IF WE CAN SAY NO TO DICTATORS,THEIR HEARTS ARE FULL OF SELFISHNESS ,GREED,AND TERROR.WE NEED TO RUN OUR GOVERNMENTS,ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AFRICA!.
MPIIMA FROM UGANDA.

 
Fred wrote 3 years 28 weeks ago

HOW LONG WILL THE WORLD WAIT?

How long will the world wait? Until America has taken over all the world? How long will Russia and China hide under a rock? America is starting wars for oil all over the place and this increases my and every normal person's fear for his family. What terrorists do is wrong but are the American government not also terrorists (on a bigger scale)?

This greed for oil is only going to breed more terrorism, even a guy that would never have thought of being one may become one after he sees his whole family blown to bits by American/French/British bombs. I don't get out much as I am ill but I live in London and even here I am always worried when my kids are at concerts, shows or anywhere like that. Is any place going to be safe for my (your) kids?

 
Dan Sullivan wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

Losing the war?

The losers of the war are the Libyan people. Some years from now, we will all see, at the back of some newspaper or in a tiny blurb on some website, a report analyzing the number of deaths from the NATO campaign, and it will be, at the least, in the thousands. The environmental consequences will be, in the long run, even worse. The depleted uranium used in NATO anti-tank rounds will be causing cancer for decades.

And then there is the economic cost to Libya. Oil production is more or less at a standstill. The economic sanctions will not be lifted any time soon. The standard of living of ordinary Libyans is now set to drop considerably.

There is a real possibility that, in the end, the country will remain divided, with neither half strong enough to resist the imperialists in the slightest. The result of that would be that Libyan oil would be sold ever cheaper on the world market. This would mean that, like Subsaharan Africa, while the imperialists extract enormous amounts of mineral wealth from the country, the people remain unspeakably poor. It will also mean a prolongation of the environmentally destructive oil-based economy the world now has, and in general a harder time for all the OPEC countries.

It may be, and I hope it will be, that the imperialists, including the U.S., will be foiled in their attempts to impose their will in Libya. I sincerely hope for that. A U.S. victory in Libya would be good only for a handful of already wealthy Americans. In the end, it would only serve to delay a lasting solution to the problems that plague most Americans, which is to say working Americans. The fact is that a working person in the U.S. has more common interests with a working person in Libya than with a rich person in the United States.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 29 weeks ago

seriously?

We should all focus on the problem at hand instead of being dramatic. At this moment we are loosing this war. Libya is basically kicking our asses.

 
Open Your Eyes, People... wrote 3 years 31 weeks ago

To begin with, US and NATO's

To begin with, US and NATO's actions should be condemned because all the acts they committed are all illegal, unconstitutional and NOT humanitarian. Whatever the reasons US, NATO, and even UN gave to the general public for their actions and decisions regarding the Libyan situation, we have to know that these "reasons" are just flimsy, pathetic attempts to cover their true intentions. The real reason for their actions is that they just want to assert their dominance. Everybody agrees that a world without Imperialist US would be a much better place to live in. And everybody would surely say that France and Britain are fossilized nations of the past, living remnants of what stupidity and false ideas could lead us into. UN, on the other hand, is a US-backed, US-controlled and US-owned faction that is used as an instrument to intervene with other states' policies and procedures so that these states would support US's imperialism, and any state that contradicts and challenges US's so-called Super Power Rights would be destroyed through military, economic and political actions. And that is what is happening in Libya. If US, NATO and UN really want to protect the civilians, is it necessary to use violent, unreasonable approaches to meet their ends? Is it reasonable to disregard Libya's plea for third party observers and just turn a deaf ear on Libya's reasonable and legal decision? And who said US can do whatever it wants just because it's the biggest, stupidest, meanest bully in the neighborhood.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 31 weeks ago

We don't count...

This is the man we elected president and winner of the Nobel peace prize, but since he doesn't understand much about war, or about consulting his constituents, or the Congress, let's just say the country is pretty much run by an oligarchy. THE OLIGARCHY IS IN PLACE WHOEVER BECOMES PRESIDENT. That oligarchy has its tentacles in every single department of the government. We the people have become so desensitized by our immediate debts and concerns, that we can care less. Have you noticed how it is now presumed that no one ever talks about politics in public? When Bush came to power, with the help of the Patriot Act, discussing politics or anything controversial became illegal at the workplace, then on campuses, now throughout much of America. We can talk about shopping, about jobs, about anything else under the sun, but not politics nor religion. So our freedoms have reduced down to that of a second or third world country. It's either an oligarchy or fascist, and just because there's man of color as president makes no difference, except that certain people will agree with whatever he does no matter what because they are color blind; to them, he's a god, or super beast.
We need a new third political party, that's what we need.

 
Em wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

"I m-mean...c-come on" - Jimmy

This is bullshit. The oil industry is an OBVIOUSLY sinking ship, and I don't know how anyone could argue that oil is not the reason for the U. S. 's interference. There are plenty of countries whose people are oppressed and could use our aid as a "superpower", but this is the one our leaders chose. I can not express how disappointed I am. What a waste of resources. What an injury to the reputation of a country already so infamous for exploitation, arrogance, and butting into other nations' business. This is not a simple situation. It is not the kind that is resolved easily or quickly. It's a mistake. I will be praying that it does not escalate into the kind of war I hoped my generation would not see. I will be praying that a draft isn't implemented, and I won't lose the people I love most. But I know that other people already have.

It's bullshit.

 
Jtizzi wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

Tribal alligence

I'd like to see some in depth analysis on the tribal support for the rebels and Gaddafi. I know some about this but I can't seem to find a good breakdown of who's supporting who and their significance.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

US agression in a civil war

You have to wonder how the US would have viewed foreign intervention iin the American Civil War, the English in the Scottish uprisings or the French in the French Revolution. Up until today this had been an uprising between factions and Government in a Sovereign Country with no implications outside the borders of that country. Now suddenly acts of aggression are being carried out at long range with no certainty who the targets are and with very flimsy justification. Who is next America? Iran, Yemen, Korea or maybe even China. There are factions in all of those countries who do not agree with their Government.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

To the person above.

Do you actually investigate beyond what you see on your TV?. Blind patriotism is burying all your freedoms and those you suppose to help.
May god(or just sanity) help us all.

 
Anonymous wrote 3 years 32 weeks ago

WTF

I do believe that the people of Libya need our help of stoping Gaddafi from massacring more of his people. It is the USA right to fight for peoples rights and for democracy because we are the biggest democratic superpower.

inspector