Libya war exposes U.S./NATO crimes against humanity
Published Jul 30, 2011 7:06 AM
For almost five months, the combined military forces of the United States and
NATO have pounded Libyan cities, towns, villages and ports in an effort to
overthrow the government of Moammar Gadhafi.
These bombing operations, now numbering more than 16,000 sorties and 6,100
strikes, have been combined with a naval blockade that includes 17 warships.
NATO warships in the Mediterranean have hailed 1,907 vessels, boarded 183 and
diverted nine. (Reuters, July 24)
Repeatedly the Pentagon and NATO have claimed that the war on the North African
nation of Libya is designed to “protect” civilians from the
government in Tripoli, which, in reality, is fighting to crush an
imperialist-backed insurgency. Yet many reports indicate that the war, which
was launched by the U.S. and several western European countries on March 19, is
a systematic campaign to terrorize and subjugate the Libyan people.
On July 25 NATO forces bombed a hospital in the western city of Zlitan, killing
seven people, including three physicians. (Associated Press, July 25) Air
assaults damaged food warehouses in that city.
Just hours prior to the bombings in Zlitan, NATO carried out a series of air
raids on the capital of Tripoli. Bombs hit a government compound, which NATO
claimed was a command and control center for the Libyan military.
British military forces took credit for the July 25 air strikes on Tripoli.
Major General Nick Pope, the defense staff’s chief communications
officer, stated that the Royal Air Force struck the perimeter walls of the Bab
al-Aziziyah complex, which has been described as a headquarters for Libyan
leader Gadhafi. However, no casualties were reported in that strike on
On July 24 NATO bombed what it described as a military storage facility near
the oil port town of al-Brega, a tank and multiple rocket launchers near
Gharyan, and a surface-to-air missile launcher and tank in Tripoli. NATO forces
also hit other cities and towns, including Waddan and Zintan, where they
claimed to have struck military targets.
Contrary to NATO claims, the Libyan government said that a water storage
facility was hit in al-Brega killing six security guards. Additional casualties
were reported when groups fighting for the Transitional National Council
suffered at least 50 deaths when they attempted to attack areas around al-Brega
and Misrata during the week of July 18.
Amid the bombing escalations, the Pentagon and NATO have requested additional
predator drones to carry out further strikes against Libya. President Barack
Obama is considering the deployment of more of these weapons, which have been
operational in this North African state for several months.
The Los Angeles Times quoted a NATO officer who said, “It’s getting
more difficult to find stuff to blow up. Predators really enable you to study
things and to develop a picture of what is going on.” (July 21)
He indicated that in order to deploy more drones in Libya it would be necessary
to transfer them from existing theaters of war in Iraq and Afghanistan as well
as other so-called “counter-terrorism” operations around the world.
An unnamed Pentagon official allegedly said, “We are looking at all the
possibilities. The reason why this is hard is that everything we have is
currently committed elsewhere.”
Although piloted aircraft from the U.S., France, Britain and other NATO
countries have carried out most of the bombing operations, Washington’s
predator drones have launched 64 strikes against Libya since April.
Libyan war follows similar pattern
The Pentagon and NATO war against Libya is by no means isolated. In Afghanistan
and Pakistan, the U.S./NATO war has escalated over the last two years since the
Obama administration took power.
In December 2009 Obama announced the deployment of an additional 30,000 troops
to Afghanistan. While the war has spread to neighboring Pakistan, civilian
deaths from drone attacks have accelerated and consequently worsened relations
between Islamabad and Washington.
Since the beginning of the U.S. and allied states’ invasion and
occupation of Iraq, there have been large-scale Iraqi deaths. The war’s
pretexts were unjustified since the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein and
the Arab Baath Socialist Party had not attacked U.S. territory or harmed its
citizens or residents.
The Iraqi people’s ongoing resistance has prevented the withdrawal of
U.S. forces that are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011. Resistance
organizations inside Iraq have killed more than two dozen U.S. soldiers in
Journalist Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey cites violations of the Statute of The
Hague International Penal Court to provide a legal rationale for charging
Washington and NATO countries with war crimes in Libya. He notes that Article 3
of the Statute reads: “Attack or bombardment, by whatever means, against
undefended cities, towns, villages, buildings or houses” violates
international law. “NATO’s continuous use of civilian targets for
military purposes, a scenario which this military organization wantonly and
callously calls ‘collateral damage,’ fits this clause exactly and
would be the cornerstone of a case accusing this organization of being guilty
of war crimes.” (prava.ru, July 25)
The article also points to a clause on “Massive destruction of cities,
towns or villages or destruction not justified by military necessity.”
The author stresses, “The attack on Libya’s water supply network on
July 22 and the attack on the factory making pipes for the supply system on
July 23 in al-Brega were not covered under ‘military necessity’ in
which case, under Article 3, this was an act of wanton destruction of civilian
structures with military hardware.”
Other violations include use of chemical weapons in al-Brega, support for an
armed insurgency against a U.N.-member state, and failure to work toward a
negotiated settlement to resolve conflict within a particular country.
The U.S./NATO alliance and their surrogates in Libya have rejected numerous
efforts by the African Union to broker a ceasefire inside the country. The
arming of TNC forces and their recognition by the NATO states further impedes
these peace efforts.
Anti-war opposition spreads across U.S.
Despite the corporate media’s virtual silence on the widespread
opposition to the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya, protests have occurred throughout
the country. The International Action Center’s national tour has brought
out hundreds of people in each of the cities to hear former U.S. Rep. Cynthia
McKinney. She visited Libya earlier this year and witnessed firsthand Pentagon
and NATO destruction.
Major efforts are underway in Detroit to build an Aug. 27 rally featuring
McKinney at the University of Michigan Detroit Center. Co-sponsors include the
Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, the National
Conference of Black Lawyers Michigan Chapter, the Michigan Welfare Rights
Organization, the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Workers World
MECAWI activists plan to do massive outreach for the event and in defense of
Libya at an Eastside community speak-out on Aug. 13 and at the African World
Festival the following week.
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