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Levin supports Obama’s decision to bomb Libya

April 4, 2011

Last week, Michigan Senator Carl Levin released a statement in support of US President Barack Obama’s decision to bomb the country of Libya.

Levin begins his comments by noting that Obama has “carefully helped assemble a broad military coalition supported by a U.N. resolution.” It is true that a United Nations resolution was passed in support of a No-Fly zone, but such a statement from Levin is overly simplistic.

First, it should be stated that 5 of the 15 UN Security Council members abstained from the vote, specifically Brazil, China, Germany, India and the Russian Federation. Some of these countries called for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue with Libya.

Second, the US and other NATO countries are already in violation of the UN Security Council resolution they signed on to. In a recent article Noam Chomsky points out that the US France and the UK interpreted the UN resolution as a justification for aggressive military action. Chomsky goes on to say:

“The blatant disregard of UN 1973, from the start began to cause some difficulties for the press as it became too glaring to ignore.  In the NYT, for example, Karim Fahim and David Kirkpatrick (March 29) wondered “how the allies could justify airstrikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s forces around [his tribal center] Surt if, as seems to be the case, they enjoy widespread support in the city and pose no threat to civilians.” Another technical difficulty is that UNSC 1973 “called for an arms embargo that applies to the entire territory of Libya, which means that any outside supply of arms to the opposition would have to be covert” (but otherwise unproblematic).”

Levin then goes on to state, “while the military mission is focused on saving lives, we must also pursue the broader goal of a future for Libya that belongs not to a tyrant, but to the Libyan people.” This ignores the US support for Qaddafi when he came to power since 1969. According to Bill Blum, author of Killing Hope, the US supported Qaddafi throughout the 1970s and into the early 80s, but that support turned to antagonism during the Reagan years. The US did attempt to assassinate Qaddafi on several occasions and did get the UN to impose sanctions on Libya from 1992 – 1999. However, the sanctions were motivated by a legal case where in Libya shot down a commercial airplane. Levin’s statement about Libya belonging to its people is somewhat hollow, especially since there has been no historical evidence that the US has taken action to support civil society since Qaddafi came to power.

Levin concludes his statement by saying, “President Obama has been cautious in weighing the considerations and conditions for the use of military force, and I am confident he will continue to do so in considering the many questions surrounding the supply of weapons to the opposition forces.

This concluding comment by Levin is either intentionally misleading or overly naïve. When has the US ever militarily intervened with supplying weapons that led to a positive and peaceful outcome? Some examples might be the US supply of weapons to Colombia and Turkey since the early 1990s. In both cases state repression increased against insurgent forces in both countries resulting in tens of thousands being killed with US weapons.

More importantly, the US decision to begin bombing Libya from planes and naval ships has had a non-peaceful effect on other countries in the region. As Phyllis Bennis points out in a March 24 posting, the US bombing of Libya has resulted in harsh crack downs by other Arab regimes against indigenous uprisings. Bennis also points out that the US bombing campaign does not have the support of the African Union (AU), a point which neither Obama or Levin are willing to acknowledge.

So it seems that Senator Levin, despite his claims to “progressive” credentials is endorsing yet another military campaign by the Obama administration. Further evidence that US war policies are fundamentally bi-partisan in nature.


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