House vote fails to end war in Libya
Published Jun 8, 2011 11:11 PM
A historic vote on the application of the 1973 War Powers Resolution has upheld
the Obama administration’s continuation of large-scale bombings aimed at
overthrowing the government of Libya.
The War Powers Resolution was passed as the result of the struggle to end the
U.S. occupation of Vietnam.
Since March 19 the Pentagon and NATO forces have carried out thousands of
bombing missions on the oil-producing North African state of Libya, despite the
lack of any explanation or consultation with Congress, let alone the people of
On June 3 the House of Representatives took up two resolutions related to the
war against Libya. The one sponsored by Ohio Congressperson Dennis Kucinich
called for the cessation of hostilities against Libya within 15 days. The
other, sponsored by Republican House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, criticized
the Obama administration for not seeking approval for the Libyan war, but
allowed the bombing and regime-change policy to continue.
The Kucinich resolution was voted down 265-148, while the Boehner-sponsored
initiative passed 268-145. The Boehner resolution called for banning ground
troops and a detailed review of Libya policy from the White House within 14
In a letter to members of Congress, Kucinich asked: “How do we deal with
the failure of a President to adhere to the Constitution? If Congress does not
challenge 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.”
(thenation.com, June 3)
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 U.N. Resolution 1973. Several weeks earlier McCain visited
the rebel-held city of Benghazi and called for the Obama administration to
recognize the rebel forces as the “legitimate government” of
The June 3 vote followed widespread criticism and condemnation of the U.S./NATO
war against Libya. On April 9-10 thousands demonstrated in both New York and
San Francisco against all wars of occupation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and
Palestine as well as Libya.
An International Action Center petition to 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 within the
country and internationally.
Kucinich stressed: “Our loyalty to NATO and to our President, regardless
of party affiliation, does not trump our loyalty to the United States
Constitution.” Yet it should be remembered that 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, nor in regard to 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 in June, when positions were struck in the eastern oil-producing
city of Brega. In addition, French Gazelle 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 Gazelle
and Tiger helicopters destroyed 15 Libyan military vehicles and five army
command posts. Yet U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which provided the
pseudo-legal and political justification for the war against Libya, was
purportedly only geared toward implementing a “no-fly zone” to
Not surprisingly, passage of U.N. Resolution 1973 was utilized to launch a
full-scale attack against Libya that not only has resulted in deaths of
civilians, the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and the
dislocation of its people, but ultimately sought the removal of the government
of Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi and the installation of a pro-Western
Despite an aerial assault and naval blockade against the Libyan people that has
lasted for nearly three months, the government has not fallen and has prevented
the opposition Transitional National Council from extending its influence
outside of Benghazi and other areas in the east of the country. The western
port city of Misrata has been virtually destroyed by NATO forces and their
rebel allies in order to establish a beachhead against the government in that
In further attempts to disrupt Libyan governmental operations, NATO aircraft
bombed the state broadcasting facilities on June 6. In the western part of the
country, fighting has escalated in the city of Yefren, located in the Nafusa
Ground invasion anticipated as refugees die at sea
There are continuing reports that NATO forces are preparing for a ground
invasion of Libya. The Guardian in Britain reported that video footage from
Al-Jazeera reveals the presence of Western troops in the country. In the video,
the report states, a group of men “is seen talking to rebels and then
quickly leaving on being spotted by the television crew.” (May 30)
This is further confirmation of numerous other reports that have been published
since early March that British special forces, MI-6, the CIA and Egyptian
special forces have been operating in Libya, assisting the rebel TNC.
Meanwhile the plight of refugees fleeing from the fighting 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 June 5: “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.”
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.
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