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Obama’s Justification for Bombing Libya

March 29, 2011

Last night President Obama addressed the country in order to convince the nation that his decision to bomb Libya was the right thing to do.

There has been much written about the uprising in Libya and the US decision to enforce a no-fly zone and then begin a bombing campaign for supposed “humanitarian” purposes.

One of the major questions raised so far was why Obama did not consult Congress first before making his decision on Libya. US Foreign Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis asks the same question. Bennis noted that the President said, “some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

Bennis responds by saying, “The United States of America turns a blind eye to atrocities in other countries all the time. In fact our policies enable those atrocities far too often. Obama spoke of places “where change is fiercely suppressed.” But the only example he mentioned was Iran — an often-discussed possible future target of U.S. military attack. He didn’t mention any of the other places “where change is fiercely suppressed,” such as Bahrain, a regional ally in the Middle East, where U.S. actions – non-military actions – could have real impact.

Obama also made the claim that he didn’t have time to consult Congress. John Nichols, writing for the Nation noted that Rep. Dennis Kucinich had a clear response to such a claim when he said, “President Obama owes the nation an explanation as to why he had time to consult with 15 members of the UN Security Council, 22 members of the Arab League, and later, with 28 members of NATO, to garner support for an attack with Great Britain and France, but had no time to come to the United States Congress for prior authorization before attacking Libya.”

Michigan members of Congress also weighed in on Obama’s speech, with local Republicans Amash and Huizenga critical of the President, while Senator Levin expressed support. Such weak partisan responses are not what we need when the US takes such politically costly actions as bombing another country.

We need a much more lively debate that provides significant political analysis like the debate that Democracy Now! hosted between Juan Cole and Vijay Prashad or the observations of Paul Craig Roberts. One question we should always ask when the US goes to war is who benefits? According to a recent posting by Open Secrets it seems clear that one of the beneficiaries of this new bombing campaign in Libya are US weapons contractors.

Lastly, one thing seems clear we should be highly skeptical of what the commercial media in the US is telling the public about this bombing campaign and how long they have known about it before reporting on it, an important point made in a recent FAIR critique of a Washington Post article.


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