Summary: The US has gone to war with Libya, with operations far exceeding a “no fly zone.” As usual the banter of our geopolitical experts merely provided cover for broader military action, probably for reasons unmentionable to the public.
The operations in Libya go far beyond the no fly zone called for by UN Security Council of resolution 1973, or that advocated by the Arab League. Since we have no official request from what passes as a rebel government, we don’t know what they wanted.
“Protecting the people” has become an all purpose justification for war (much as COIN provides in Afghanistan) — in this case, justifying destruction of the regime governing Libya. This makes a mockery of the brief (mostly bogus) public debate in the US news media proceeding that attacks, supposedly providing the semblance of Republican government.
As for authorization of these actions — Congress remains mute. Decisions were made in the shadows, where the real power moves. Cloaked by lies. Obama has ordered the legions to act; nothing else matters.
- Text of the UN resolution
- Military actions in Libya
- For more information
(1) Text of the UN resolution
Protection of civilians
4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), 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, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;
5. Recognizes the important role of the League of Arab States in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security in the region, and bearing in mind Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, requests the Member States of the League of Arab States to cooperate with other Member States in the implementation of paragraph 4;
6. Decides to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians;
Update: for an analysis of the resolution see “The Problem with Strategic Ambiguity and Humanitarian Intervention“, Kenneth Anderson (Prof Law, American U), 22 March 2011.
(2) Military actions in Libya
Step one: kill Qaddafi. In two interviews on the BBC, UK Defense Secretary Liam Fox said that Qaddafi was a “legitmate target” (see here and here). Qaddafi already knows that, as reported on Fox News, 21 March 2011 (updated 21 March):
British submarines fired two missiles at Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s compound in downtown Tripoli Sunday, a senior coalition official confirmed to Fox News, as part of a weekend of punishing attacks aimed at protecting the Libyan people.
The British Ministry of Defense confirmed that Qaddafi was not the target, but that the compound was hit because of its military significance. A Pentagon official had previously said Sunday that the coalition “will not be going after Qaddafi.”
The 4-story compound in downtown Tripoli was home to Qaddafi and was demolished by the attacks …
Step two: attack his ground forces (AP, 21 March 2011):
U.S., British and French planes went after tanks headed toward Benghazi, in the opposition-held eastern half of the country. On Sunday, at least seven demolished tanks smoldered in a field 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Benghazi, many of them with their turrets and treads blown off, alongside charred armored personnel carriers, jeeps and SUVs of the kind used by Gadhafi fighters.
Admiral Mullen on “Meet the Press”, 20 March 2011 (transcript here):
We actually started yesterday a limited operation and narrow in scope, focused on supporting the United Nations Security Council resolution, which very specifically focused on the humanitarian efforts protecting the civilians in Libya.
… Some of the engagements yesterday included attacking his forces on the ground in the vicinity of Benghazi and, clearly, the objective will be to attack those forces and ensure that they are unable to continue to attack the innocent civilians, which he was doing as recently as yesterday morning in Benghazi.
Stratfor’s reporting, as usual, goes to the heart of the matter:
The long-term goal, unspoken but well understood, is regime change — displacing the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around the rebels.
— “The Libyan War of 2011“, George Friedman, STRATFOR, 19 March 2011
(3) Posts about recent events in the Middle East
- Libya’s people need uninvited infidel foreigners to save them!, 1 March 2011
- “You just have not seen enough people bleed to death”, 8 March 2011
- About attacking Libya – let’s give this more thought than we did Afghanistan and Iraq, 6 March 2009
- Our geopolitical experts see the world with the innocent eyes of children (that’s a bad thing), 14 March 2011
- The Middle East scorecard, 18 March 2011
- Events in the Middle East expose the nature of US foreign policy. There is yet time to change before we hit the rocks., 20 March 2011