Archive for category Libya
Via Media Matters.
What a shame. It was Candy Crowley who courageously committed an act of journalism in the middle of a presidential debate, daring to fact-check inveterate liar Willard (“Mitt”) Romney in real time. I suppose her standing at CNN has suffered, because truth-telling just isn’t appreciated among the DC media. On CNN right-wing talking points are better than facts, so Crowley is going with the talking points.
The hyper-partisan right-wing Benghazi witch-hunt has produced no new information after NINE congressional hearings, two full-scale investigations, and an SNL parody. Senator John McCain tried to get a select committee established just to re-hash Benghazi. If I were the Senate Majority Leader I would instead assemble a committee to thoroughly investigate the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, starting with the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax letters, and charged with examining the 31 other terrorist attacks on Bush’s watch, including 7 attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates.
President Obama gave a great speech at the United Nations General Assembly this morning. The rest of the world wants to believe that America has not abandoned its founding principles, and our President says we have not. If only his actions conformed to the Constitution, I’d be happy to support him.
We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspirations of men and women who took to the streets.
We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy put us on the side of the people.
We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were not being served by a corrupt status quo.
We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the U.N. Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents; and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.
And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop, and a new dawn can begin.
We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture. These are not simply American values or Western values – they are universal values.
American foreign policy ought to be on the side of the 99 Percent. Similarly, our government ought to stand up for the 99 Percent of Americans.
Citing Nelson Mandela, President Obama received loud applause.
And yet the turmoil of recent weeks reminds us that the path to democracy does not end with the casting of a ballot. Nelson Mandela once said: “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” True democracy demands that citizens cannot be thrown in jail because of what they believe, and businesses can be opened without paying a bribe. It depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear; on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.
In other words, true democracy – real freedom – is hard work. Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissent. In hard economic times, countries may be tempted to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.
And he offered this comment on the limits of American power:
Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not, and will not, seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad, and we do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue.
He implicitly rejected the neocon view of a world divided, but failed to address the violence against innocent civilians that is perpetrated by the USA:
A politics based only on anger –one based on dividing the world between us and them – not only sets back international cooperation, it ultimately undermines those who tolerate it. All of us have an interest in standing up to these forces. Let us remember that Muslims have suffered the most at the hands of extremism. On the same day our civilians were killed in Benghazi, a Turkish police officer was murdered in Istanbul only days before his wedding; more than ten Yemenis were killed in a car bomb in Sana’a; and several Afghan children were mourned by their parents just days after they were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul.
…We know from painful experience that the path to security and prosperity does not lie outside the boundaries of international law and respect for human rights.
President Obama concluded (as he began) by citing the example of Chris Stevens, our murdered ambassador to Libya.
And today I promise you this – long after these killers are brought to justice, Chris Stevens’ legacy will live on in the lives he touched. In the tens of thousands who marched against violence through the streets of Benghazi; in the Libyans who changed their Facebook photo to one of Chris; in the sign that read, simply, “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans.
They should give us hope. They should remind us that so long as we work for it justice will be done; that history is on our side; and that a rising tide of liberty will never be reversed. Thank you.
The study’s purpose was to conduct an “independent investigations into whether, and to what extent, drone strikes in Pakistan conformed to international law and caused harm and/or injury to civilians”.
In his first major foreign policy address, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today laid out a vision for international development steeped in Tea Party ideology… Romney …threw some red meat at his base by ticking off unfavorable developments currently faced by the U.S. in the Muslim world, listing among them the fact that “the president of Egypt is a member of the Muslim brotherhood.”
…A foreign policy expert texted me a single word: “Thud.”
The Romney-Ryan campaign achieved a new low on September 11. Willard (“Mitt”) Romney attempted to suggest that President Obama is in league with Arab terrorists, and implied that “American values” include bigotry and hatred based on religious differences. He left the press conference with a self-satisfied smirk reminiscent of the last Republican president. Indeed, Romney’s irresponsible reaction to violence in Libya and Egypt is the surest indication that he plans to repeat the mistakes of George W. Bush.
Because Romney has had almost nothing to say about foreign policy, not enough attention has been focused on who he would appoint to key positions in the White House, Pentagon, and State Department. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. John Bolton and other rabid neocons head the list.
Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government.
…Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush.
There is plenty to criticize in President Obama’s foreign policy, including his conduct of the war in Afghanistan, the failure to close Guantanamo and end preventive detention, the out-of-control drone war in Pakistan, Yemen and other countries, the Libya intervention without congressional authorization, and his attempt to retain military bases in Iraq. However, short of starting a war with Iran, it would be hard to imagine how Obama could do as badly as Bush. America’s allies around the world (with the possible exception of Netanyahu’s Israel) see the Obama administration as an improvement. Our relations with Russia and China have gotten better, too.
Far from creating his own crisis as Bush did, Obama was hit with one, the Arab Spring. We can’t know how all that will turn out, and things certainly look bleak at this moment in Egypt and Libya. But Obama did the only things that could be done at the time. Can you imagine the United States siding with Hosni Mubarak against those people in Tahrir Square, or permitting the pre-advertised massacre of thousands in Benghazi?
The world is the world. Obama can’t wave a wand at it. But he can do what he has done, which is to run a sober and responsible foreign policy, not one based on theories developed in think-tank seminars underwritten by some hawkish Israeli billionaire. Obama’s approach to foreign policy is the one that has guided this country at its best moments (which have not, alas, been as frequent as we’d like), and it’s the foreign policy most Americans want.
UPDATE: Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) says President Obama “is apologizing because he didn’t like America.” With friends like Akin, Romney doesn’t need enemies.
UPDATE: Bob Cesca: Mitt Romney Kneejerks Into Another Colossal Blunder (Given an opportunity to look presidential, Romney decided to channel Rush Limbaugh instead)
A caller to CNN described her joy at the ending of Gaddafi’s nearly 42-year rule in Libya, translating a common Arabic word into English: “Halas, finished, game over.”
That was yesterday. Today we have reports that Bab al-Aziziya, Gaddafi’s last stronghold in Tripoli has fallen to the rebels, and the Libyan revolution has succeeded.
The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli says there is a real sense that this is the end of Col Gaddafi’s rule, but the proper celebrations will not begin until he and his family are found.
There are still pockets of resistance in Tripoli near to the Hotel Rixos, where many foreign journalists are staying.
And the situation is unclear in the colonel’s hometown of Sirte, which has been a stronghold of regime loyalists.
Reports said retreating government troops had been pouring back to Sirte, and rumours circulated suggesting that the colonel may have fled there.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions. What role did NATO and the U.S. military and CIA play in Gaddafi’s downfall? What has happened to Libya’s stockpile of 20,000 hand-held surface-to-air missiles? What comes next– can the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) form a legitimate government and handle internal security, or will foreign peacekeepers be called in?
UPDATE: Juan Cole: Top ten myths about the Libya war
UPDATE: Libya’s deadliest weapons may be unguarded, and unaccounted for.
UPDATE: HuffPo offers a collection of video reports. One rebel/looter managed to snag Gaddafi’s hat– maybe he can sell it on eBay.
My definition of a gaffe in politics is when an elected official or political candidate accidentally says something that’s true. So, gaffes are a good thing.
Speaking with reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested that Republican members of Congress didn’t dare to criticize President Bush’s malfeasance during wartime, but it’s different when the commander in chief is a Democrat.
“Country First” ™ — but after party loyalty, of course.
UPDATE: The Gallup Poll seems to indicate that support for or opposition to unwinnable wars in Muslim countries is based more on domestic politics than the facts. While Republicans have turned into peaceniks because of Libya over the past three months, a majority of Democrats continues to support the war (or “limited kinetic operation” as SecDef Gates calls it). Jon Walker on FDL:
It seems when it comes to unnecessary wars of choice in this country, be it Iraq or Libya, both party’s respective members will rally to defend their presidents even in the face of overwhelming evidence that said wars were a mistake.
Remember nine months ago the Obama administration promised to put solar panels back on the White House roof? We’re still waiting. Bill McKibben on AlterNet (emphasis added):
Thirty two years ago today, President Jimmy Carter installed a series of solar panels on the White House roof. He stood up there on the roof that day, and issued an oracular warning: “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, or it can be a small part of the greatest adventures undertaken by the American people.”
We found out the answer in much less than a generation — it only took six years for Ronald Reagan to rip them off the roof. But we thought we’d gotten a new chance last fall when the Obama administration promised that solar panels would go back up this spring.
…So what’s the hold up? Possibly Obama just prefers coal: earlier this spring he opened up a huge swath of federal land in Wyoming for mining, the equivalent of inaugurating 30 coal-fired power plants. More likely, his political advisors are afraid people will connect him with Carter — that he’ll catch some kind of electoral cooties and lose his campaign for a second term. My best guess? I think he’s just concentrating on other things, and that to him global warming is a second-tier problem.
President Carter got solar panels installed faster, and that was before you could simply look in the Yellow Pages and find a company that would do it. Maybe President Obama is too busy playing golf with Republicans, or spending well over $700 million (so far) in an attempt to take Libya’s oil. Solar is cheaper!
“[Obama's] election was accompanied by intense hope that many things in need of change would change,” Gore says. “Some things have, but others have not. Climate policy, unfortunately, is in the second category. Why?”
Previous One Utah post:
Yes They Can: 350.org Persuades the White House to Go Solar Again (October 5, 2010)
Maybe American government has put aside concerns over the Constitution once and for all. How else can we explain the United States Armed Forces fighting an unprovoked war in Libya without any congressional authorization? There is bipartisan opposition to the war among members of Congress, which has so far been countered by Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
By the way, President Obama’s defenders claim that the 1973 War Powers Resolution (WPR) gave the President the ability to wage war in Libya for 60 days without congressional authorization. In fact, there is no such unfettered power– as candidate Obama himself pointed out in 2007. Section 1541(c) of the WPR explicitly states that the 60-day grace period applies only to “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” Libya never attacked us.
Today is Day 77 of this war, anyway. It’s an illegal war without any doubt or room for argument.
UPDATE: A bipartisan group of congressmen has filed a lawsuit against President Obama.
The lawsuit challenges what the lawmakers see as “the executive branch’s circumvention of Congress and its use of international organizations such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to authorize the use of military force abroad, in violation of the Constitution.”
UPDATE: As the Libyan War reaches the 3-month mark, the Obama White House staff has come up with a truly bizarre reason for not obtaining congressional authorization – U.S. operations there are not “hostilities” by the new Obama definition of the word.
As a Vietnam veteran, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell knew a quagmire when he saw one. Before the Iraq invasion, he cautioned President Bush’s inner circle that “once you break it, you are going to own it.” Always-wrong NYT columnist Tom Friedman called this “the Pottery Barn Rule” despite the fact Pottery Barn has no such rule.
Powell was right, and a large part of the U.S. Army is still in Iraq eight years later. You can bet that Libya won’t end soon either. And we have no plan worthy of the name.
The bottom line is that we own Libya now, for the long term. We won’t abandon the rebels, regardless of how utterly feckless they are. We also own the Libyan aftermath – and we have no idea of how that looks like. We have a lot of hopes for what it may look like, but as we learned in Iraq, hope is not a plan. And that’s why those of us who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were so bloody reluctant to get involved in Libya – because in some key respects, it bore a highly uncomfortable resemblance to what we experienced.
Reports from Libya indicate the anti-Gaddafi insurgents consist of about a thousand mostly-amateur fighters, and they are up against an army of at least 10,000. Gaddafi’s forces are starting to hide their tanks and artillery and advance in pickup trucks, which are harder to target from the air.
The defection of Libyan foreign minister (and former terrorism mastermind) Musa Kusa may be a turning point, or it might not.
Whatever footwear the CIA people on the ground in Libya may have, President Obama rules out boots.
If the Gaddafi regime falls, some predict an extended civil war as tribal factions fight for power.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Libya. No mire is too quaggy for the good old USA. People have forgotten we still have troops in Bosnia, as part of the NATO occupation there. Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE: Cloud cover over Libya has hampered the NATO/USA air campaign for the last three or four days.
Sources close to Gadhafi told CNN that political solutions are still possible but that the Libyan leader would relinquish power only to others within his inner circle.
UPDATE: On FDL, Phoenix Woman examines the European concerns about stemming a Libyan refugee crisis.
For the next few days, A-10 gunships will continue to fly over Libya, where they’ve conducted strikes against Gadhafi regime armor and artillery for the past week. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that after NATO takes full control of the strike operations, the A-10s will go on “standby,” to be used in Libya only if non-U.S. aircraft fail to stop a new humanitarian emergency.
UPDATE: So much for the supposed patriotic duty to support the Commander in Chief no matter what. That was then, and this is now. Fox Relentlessly Bashes Obama Over Libya.
Previously on One Utah: Archive for category Libya.
Glenn Greenwald asks an interesting question (emphasis added):
[Advocates of the U.S. attack on Libya say] it’s humane and noble to topple a brutal dictator; using force is the only way to protect parts of the population from slaughter…; it’s not in America’s interests to allow a deranged despot (or his deranged sons) to control a vital oil-rich nation; and removing the tyrant will aid the spread of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Why does that reasoning justify war in Libya but not Iraq?
Of course, this time we have an U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the war (although, curiously, the President failed to get any authorization from Congress). There is pretty good evidence that Gaddafi’s attack on Benghazi would have killed lots of rebels and civilians, and that the Allied air intervention inflicted a tactical defeat on Libyan government forces.
The rest of the situation is murky. The Libya end game is unknown, even in military terms. Air power by itself is almost never decisive on the strategic level (nuclear weapons being the exception). Many members of Congress are probably secretly relieved they didn’t have to vote on this. With the Middle East in an uproar, how will the Libya operation affect Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and other unstable countries?
And so, once again America has attacked an oil-rich Arab state. This time by order of a Democratic commander-in-chief. Whenever I encounter that cliche, “Elections have consequences,” I think I’ll ask for proof. When you look at it substantively, there is just too much bipartisanship in Washington.
UPDATE: This afternoon, NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said that air strikes on urban areas have been ruled out. Which means stalemate for now, because Gaddafi’s ground forces are positioned in urban areas.
UPDATE: Rebels have pushed Gaddafi’s forces out of Ajdabiya. It’s an achievement, but it still leaves them 500 miles from Tripoli. Even before President Obama goes on TV Monday to tell us what this war is about, mission creep is starting to develop. The “no-fly zone” has already morphed into tactical air support, and the Obama administration is debating whether to send arms and other aid to the rebels. That will necessitate some kind of a ground operation. There have been reports of British special forces already in Libya.
UPDATE: Rebel advance stopped at the outskirts of Sirte by Gaddafi forces.
Without air strikes it appears the rebels are not able to make advances or even hold ground. The battle around Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace, will reveal if the rebel advance has reached its limit.
Most of Gaddafi’s military forces have been reduced to burning rubble after assaults by Western nations. Nonetheless, he has vowed to arm every Libyan citizen still loyal to him and wage a long, drawn-out war against all who challenge his right to rule the country. WARNING: Graphic footage.
Can the President just declare war without any authorization from the Congress? This is the question that somehow didn’t come up on this morning’s talk shows — or if it did, I missed it.
Candidate Barack Obama, December 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.”
President Barack Obama, March 2011:
”I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly.”
Glenn Greenwald comments:
The dangers from unilateral, presidential-decreed wars are highlighted in the Libya situation. There has been very little public discussion (and even less explanation from the President) about the reasons we should do this, what the costs would be on any level, what the end goal would be, how mission creep would be avoided, whether the “Pottery Barn” rule will apply, or virtually anything else. Public opinion is at best divided on the question if not opposed. Even if you’re someone who favors this intervention, what’s the rationale for not requiring a debate and vote in Congress over whether the President should be able to commit the nation to a new military conflict? Candidate Obama, candidate Clinton, and the Bush-era Democrats all recognized the constitutional impropriety of unilateral actions like this one; why shouldn’t they be held to that?