OAKLAND, CA (March 26, 2011) — Cynicism is not a healthy sentiment, and as the late Molly Ivins pointed out, it absolutely wrecks good journalism. But watching events in the Middle East unfold these days makes it a pretty difficult point of view to avoid.
Let’s take the current U.S bombing of Libya. The rationale behind United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians from being beaten, shot up, and generally abused.
But while this applies to Libya, it does not apply to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, or Yemen, where civilians are also being shot up, beaten, and generally abused. Is this because Muammar Gaddafi is uniquely evil? Crazier and odder, certainly, but being in the “opposition” in any of those countries is not a path to easy retirement. Civil liberties don’t exist, prisons are chock full of political prisoners, and getting whacked if you don’t like the leader is an operational hazard.
So what’s it all about? Okay, here is the cynical joke: “Is it all about oil? Nope. Some of it is about natural gas.”
Too simplistic? Maybe, but consider the following.
1) In 2009, the US Energy Information Administration predicted that world oil reserves had “peaked” and that over the next several decades supplies would drop and prices would rise. There is some controversy over the study, but there is general agreement that easy-to-get petroleum sources are getting harder and harder to find.
2) Approximately 65 percent of the world’s remaining oil reserves are in the Middle East, as well as considerable amounts of natural gas. Iran has the second greatest reserves of gas outside of Russia.
3) The US — with the largest economy in the world — uses around 21 million barrels of oil per day (bpd). Since it produces only 7.5 million bpd domestically, it imports two thirds of its oil. Its major sources are (in descending order) Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Iraq.
4) China — the worldâ€™s number two economy — uses about 8 million bpd, a demand that is projected to rise to 11.3 million bpd by 2015. Since it only produces 3.7 million bpd domestically, it too relies on imported oil. It main suppliers are (in descending order) Saudi Arabia, Iran, Angola, Russia, Oman and Sudan.
It is estimated that, sometime between 2030 and 2050, China will surpass the US and become the world’s number one economy — provided that it can secure enough energy for its growing industrial needs. Insuring access to oil and gas is a major focus of Chinese foreign policy, particularly because Beijing is nervous about how it currently obtains its supplies. Some 80 percent are transported by sea, and all of those routes involve choke points currently controlled by the US The US Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain controls the Hormutz Straits, through which Saudi Arabian, Iranian, and Omanian oil passes.
The Fifth also dominates the straits of Bab el-Mandab that control access to the Red Sea and through which Sudan’s oil is shipped into the Indian Ocean. In addition the Malacca Straits between Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula is the major transit point for oil going to China. The US Seventh Fleet controls that choke point.
Chinaâ€™s nervousness over its sea-based oil supplies is one of the major reasons behind Beijingâ€™s crash naval program, its construction of ports in South and Southeast Asia, and its efforts to build land-based pipelines from Russia, Central Asia, and Pakistan.
The Chinese are also trying to cope with the fact that Iran, its second largest supplier of oil and gas, is currently under international sanctions that have reduced production and cut into Chinaâ€™s supplies. Beijing has invested upwards of $120 billion to upgrade Iranâ€™s energy industry, but recently has had to cutback investments because its banks could end up being sanctioned for helping out the Teheran regime.
The Chinese are not the slightest bit cynical about why the US is bombing Libya and not challenging Bahrain and Yemen: Bahrain hosts the US Fifth Fleet, and Yemenâ€™s port of Aden dominates the Red Sea. China can play chess.
As for Libya. The US doesn’t get oil from Libya, but its allies in Europe do. And the current crisis is African Commandâ€™s (Africom) coming out party. Up to now the record of the spanking new military formation has been less than impressive. First, no one would host it, because the US military in Africa makes the locals nervous. So it is still based in Germany. Then it coordinated the absolutely disastrous Ethiopian invasion of Somalia that ended up turning most of the country over to the extremist Shabab.
But Libya is a fresh slate for Africom, and that is making the Chinese even more nervous (and explains why they have been so cranky about civilian casualties in Libya). When Africom was in its infancy it war-gamed a military intervention in the Gulf of Guinea in case â€œcivil disturbances: caused any disruptions in oil supplies.
Angola, China’s other major African supplier, is in the Gulf of Guinea. It hardly seems like a coincidence that, at the very moment that African oil supplies become important, the US creates a new military formation for the continent. Africom is currently advising and training the military forces of 53 countries in the region.
Okay, so here you are in Beijing. Your industries are clamoring for power. Media in the United States reflect a growing hostility toward you, with headlines in newspapers reading, “The Chinese Tiger Shows Its Claws,” and US politicians routinely blame you for Americaâ€™s economic problems. And the US has basically puts its thumb on each one of your oil and gas sources. Nobody is cutting off any supplies at this point, but the implied threat is always there.
In end, it is not so much about oil and gas itself, as the control of energy. Any country that corners energy supplies in the coming decades will be in a powerful position to dictate a whole lot of things to the rest of the world. That’s not cynicism, its cold-blooded calculation. And right now a lot of people in the Middle East are paying the price of the ticket.
Read Conn Hallinan at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com
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CIA Ground Forces Operating
Inside Libya for ‘Several Weeks’
Obama Authorized Aiding Rebels
Despite Denial Any Decision Was Made Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(March 30, 2011) — Already ill-defined and increasingly unpopular, the US War in Libya has taken several more hits today as evidence mounted that the administration has been overtly lying about the US role in the conflict, and had actual been conducting covert operations in the country for “several weeks.”
That was the revelation Wednesday, as US officials admitted that CIA ground forces have been conducting secret operations inside Libya for quite some time before the war was formally declared (two weeks ago Thursday) and even further before the first US strikes were launched (that Saturday).
Not only that, but Reuters revealed that President Obama signed an order authorizing the US to secretly arm Libyan rebels weeks ago. This is particularly noteworthy because only yesterday the president pretended to be “considering” this action, saying no such decision had been made.
In his Monday address President Obama feigned pride over the fact that he got the US involved in the Libyan War within the first month of hostilities, far sooner than President Clinton had in Bosnia.
Todayâ€™s revelations suggest that the president was committing American resources from the time the protest movement and the crackdown began to escalate into a civil war, and possibly sooner. The presidentâ€™s already precipitous decision to involve the US in the internal Libyan conflict appears to have been even hastier than ever imagined.
WASHINGTON (March 30, 2011) — The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafiâ€™s forces, according to American officials.
While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafiâ€™s military, the officials said.
In addition to the C.I.A. presence, composed of an unknown number of Americans who had worked at the spy agencyâ€™s station in Tripoli and others who arrived more recently, current and former British officials said that dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tank columns, artillery pieces and missile installations, the officials said.
American officials hope that similar information gathered by American intelligence officers — including the location of Colonel Qaddafiâ€™s munitions depots and the clusters of government troops inside towns — might help weaken Libyaâ€™s military enough to encourage defections within its ranks.
In addition, the American spies are meeting with rebels to try to fill in gaps in understanding who their leaders are and the allegiances of the groups opposed to Colonel Qaddafi, said United States government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the activities. American officials cautioned, though, that the Western operatives were not directing the actions of rebel forces.
A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.
The United States and its allies have been scrambling to gather detailed information on the location and abilities of Libyan infantry and armored forces that normally takes months of painstaking analysis.
“We didnâ€™t have great data,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, who handed over control of the Libya mission to NATO on Wednesday, said in an e-mail last week. “Libya hasn’t been a country we focused on a lot over past few years.”
Several weeks ago, President Obama signed a secret finding authorizing the C.I.A. to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels, American officials said Wednesday. But weapons have not yet been shipped into Libya, as Obama administration officials debate the effects of giving them to the rebel groups. The presidential finding was first reported by Reuters.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, declined to comment â€œon intelligence matters,â€ but he said that no decision had yet been made to provide arms to the rebels.
Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who leads the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that he opposed arming the rebels. “We need to understand more about the opposition before I would support passing out guns and advanced weapons to them,” Mr. Rogers said in a statement.
Because the publicly stated goal of the Libyan campaign is not explicitly to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi’s government, the clandestine war now going on is significantly different from the Afghan campaign to drive the Taliban from power in 2001. Back then, American C.I.A. and Special Forces troops worked alongside Afghan militias, armed them and called in airstrikes that paved the rebel advances on strategically important cities like Kabul and Kandahar.
In recent weeks, the American military has been monitoring Libyan troops with U-2 spy planes and a high-altitude Global Hawk drone, as well as a special aircraft, JSTARS, that tracks the movements of large groups of troops. Military officials said that the Air Force also has Predator drones, similar to those now operating in Afghanistan, in reserve.
Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint eavesdropping planes intercept communications from Libyan commanders and troops and relay that information to the Global Hawk, which zooms in on the location of armored forces and determines rough coordinates.
The Global Hawk sends the coordinates to analysts at a ground station, who pass the information to command centers for targeting. The command center beams the coordinates to an E-3 Sentry Awacs command-and-control plane, which in turn directs warplanes to their targets.
Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, who recently retired as the Air Forceâ€™s top intelligence official, said that Libya’s flat desert terrain and clear weather have allowed warplanes with advanced sensors to hunt Libyan armored columns with relative ease, day or night, without the need for extensive direction from American troops on the ground.
But if government troops advance into or near cities in along the countryâ€™s eastern coast, which so far have been off-limits to coalition aircraft for fear of causing civilian casualties, General Deptula said that ground operatives would be particularly helpful in providing target coordinates or pointing them out to pilots with hand-held laser designators.
The C.I.A. and British intelligence services were intensely focused on Libya eight years ago, before and during the successful effort to get Colonel Qaddafi to give up his nuclear weapons program. He agreed to do so in the fall of 2003, and allowed C.I.A. and other American nuclear experts into the country to assess Libya’s equipment and bomb designs and to arrange for their transfer out of the country.
Once the weapons program was eliminated, a former American official said, intelligence agencies shifted their focus away from Libya. But as Colonel Qaddafi began his recent crackdown on the rebel groups, the American spy agencies have worked to rekindle ties to Libyan informants and to learn more about the countryâ€™s military leaders.
A former British government official who is briefed on current operations confirmed media reports that dozens of British Special Forces soldiers, from the elite Special Air Service and Special Boat Service units, are on the ground across Libya. The British soldiers have been particularly focused on finding the locations of Colonel Qaddafi’s Russian-made surface-to-air missiles.
A spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defense declined to comment, citing a policy not to discuss the operations of British Special Forces.
Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting from London, and David E. Sanger from Washington.
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‘Death Zone’ How US Soldiers Turned a Night-time Airstrike into a Chilling ‘Music Video’
The clip presented here is excerpted from ‘Death Zone,’ a chilling video collected and shared by members of the “kill team” of US soldiers who murdered civilians in Afghanistan and mutilated the corpses. Shot through thermal imaging, the grainy footage shows two Afghans suspected of planting an IED being blown up by an airstrike.
While the deaths may have resulted from a legitimate combat engagement, the video itself represents a clear violation of Army standards. Scenes of the attack have been edited into a 15-minute music video, complete with a rock soundtrack and a title card. This clip from the video picks up shortly before the airstrike begins, accompanied by the song “En Vie” by Apocalyptica, a cello rock band from Helsinki. The video ends with grisly still images of the casualties, followed by closing credits. It was passed from soldier to soldier on thumb drives and hard drives, the gruesome video filed alongside clips of TV shows, UFC fights and films such as Iron Man 2.
The Kill Team Mark Boal / Rolling Stone Magazine
SAN FRANCISCO (March 27, 2011) — Early last year, after six hard months soldiering in Afghanistan, a group of American infantrymen reached a momentous decision: It was finally time to kill a haji.
Among the men of Bravo Company, the notion of killing an Afghan civilian had been the subject of countless conversations, during lunchtime chats and late-night bull sessions. For weeks, they had weighed the ethics of bagging “savages” and debated the probability of getting caught.
Some of them agonized over the idea; others were gung-ho from the start. But not long after the New Year, as winter descended on the arid plains of Kandahar Province, they agreed to stop talking and actually pull the trigger.
Bravo Company had been stationed in the area since summer, struggling, with little success, to root out the Taliban and establish an American presence in one of the most violent and lawless regions of the country. On the morning of January 15th, the company’s 3rd Platoon — part of the 5th Stryker Brigade, based out of Tacoma, Washington — left the mini-metropolis of tents and trailers at Forward Operating Base Ramrod in a convoy of armored Stryker troop carriers.
The massive, eight-wheeled trucks surged across wide, vacant stretches of desert, until they came to La Mohammad Kalay, an isolated farming village tucked away behind a few poppy fields.
To provide perimeter security, the soldiers parked the Strykers at the outskirts of the settlement, which was nothing more than a warren of mud-and-straw compounds. Then they set out on foot. Local villagers were suspected of supporting the Taliban, providing a safe haven for strikes against US troops. But as the soldiers of 3rd Platoon walked through the alleys of La Mohammad Kalay, they saw no armed fighters, no evidence of enemy positions.
Instead, they were greeted by a frustratingly familiar sight: destitute Afghan farmers living without electricity or running water; bearded men with poor teeth in tattered traditional clothes; young kids eager for candy and money.
It was impossible to tell which, if any, of the villagers were sympathetic to the Taliban. The insurgents, for their part, preferred to stay hidden from American troops, striking from a distance with IEDs.
While the officers of 3rd Platoon peeled off to talk to a village elder inside a compound, two soldiers walked away from the unit until they reached the far edge of the village. There, in a nearby poppy field, they began looking for someone to kill.
“The general consensus was, if we are going to do something that fucking crazy, no one wanted anybody around to witness it,” one of the men later told Army investigators.
The poppy plants were still low to the ground at that time of year. The two soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock and Pfc. Andrew Holmes, saw a young farmer who was working by himself among the spiky shoots. Off in the distance, a few other soldiers stood sentry. But the farmer was the only Afghan in sight. With no one around to witness, the timing was right. And just like that, they picked him for execution.
He was a smooth-faced kid, about 15 years old. Not much younger than they were: Morlock was 21, Holmes was 19. His name, they would later learn, was Gul Mudin, a common name in Afghanistan. He was wearing a little cap and a Western-style green jacket.
He held nothing in his hand that could be interpreted as a weapon, not even a shovel. The expression on his face was welcoming. “He was not a threat,” Morlock later confessed….
Read the complete article (along with photos) online at:
Pacifists Jailed for Trying to Disarm Nuclear WMD
Disarm Now Plowshares Sentenced: 6 to 15 Months Disarm Now Plowshares
(March 28, 2011) — The Disarm Now Plowshares activists who entered US Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to symbolically disarm the nuclear weapons stored there were sentenced today at the Tacoma Federal Courthouse, receiving sentences of 6 months to 15 months confinement, plus one year supervised release.
About 250 people gathered at the courthouse to support the Plowshares activists with their presence, song, and prayer. After the trial, they sang peace songs and processed out as a group, celebrating the beacon of hope the five activists have been for their community.
Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and others testified on behalf of the defendants. Bishop Gumbleton, retired bishop of Detroit and founding president of the peace group Pax Christi, testified that the Catholic Church has spoken out very strongly against nuclear weapons, saying that no use of nuclear weapons can be justified morally. “We must abolish these weapons before the earth is destroyed.”
Ramsey Clark, US Attorney General under President Lyndon B. Johnson, testified that never in his life has he encountered such unselfish people as those who participate in the Plowshares tradition of direct action against nuclear weapons. Regarding their decision to live a life of civil resistance, he said, “Their consciences tell them they have to do it. God will bless them for it and the courts of the United States should too.”
Speaking as part of the Disarm Now Plowshares legal team, Anabel Dwyer and Bill Quigley laid out the broader legal picture of the case. “The problem is that nuclear weapons and the rule of law canâ€™t exist side by side,” Dwyer said. “The other problem is, we cannot disarm nuclear weapons unless through the rule of law. We are in a conundrum here.”
Quigley submitted that lawyers are obligated to “understand difference between law and justice and to narrow that gap.” He encouraged the judge to look back one hundred years and consider how many of the laws of that time were “legal but manifestly unjust.”
Dwyer is a Michigan attorney and Board Member of The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), and an expert in humanitarian law and nuclear weapons. Quigley is the Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and Professor at Loyola New Orleans.
Each of the five co-defendants, Bill “Bix” Bichsel, SJ, Susan Crane, Lynne Greenwald, Steve Kelly, SJ, and Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, read statements in court. They focused on the personal responsibility they feel to disarm nuclear weapons, and their desire to prevent pain, suffering, and death for “those deprived by our wars and military budget of a human way of life.”
Character witnesses spoke to the defendants’ solidarity with Native people, children, working people, and the wider Tacoma community. Rosella Apel, age 11, said in her character witness for Steve Kelly, “I have a clear image that when I grow up I’m going to do the exact same thing that these five have.”
Crane and Kelly have each been sentenced to 15 months prison and one year supervised release. Greenwald has been sentenced to six months prison, one year supervised release, and 60 hrs community service. Bichsel has been sentenced to three months prison, six months electronic home monitoring, and one year supervised release. Montgomery has been sentenced to two months prison, four months electronic home monitoring, and one year supervised release.
Roger Hunko, standby counsel for the Plowshares activists, disagreed with the outcome of the trial but expressed his respect for Judge Settle as a fair man. Dwyer was also impressed by the judge’s civility and his thoughtful attention to the case, but she too disagrees with the judge’s decision.
“Every citizen has the right to ensure nonviolent complete nuclear disarmament. Trident is grotesquely illegal and criminal, and Disarm Now Plowshares should not be in prison for pointing that out.”
TACOMA, Washington (March 28, 2011) — Two priests, a nun and two women in their 60s who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor to protest submarine nuclear weapons were sentenced Monday to prison terms ranging from two to 15 months.
US District Judge Benjamin H. Settle sentenced Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly, 62, and retired teacher Susan Crane, 67, to 15 months in prison, US Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Emily Langlie said.
Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel, 82, was sentenced to three months in prison and six months of home monitoring. Sister Anne Montgomery, 84, got two months in prison and four months home monitoring, and social worker Lynne Greenwald, 61, got six months in prison and 60 hours of community service. All five defendants also were given one year of supervised release. They were ordered into custody Monday, Langlie said.
The judge praised the five defendants for their humanitarian work but said he was bound by the law to send a message that legal means must be used to bring about change, the News Tribune reported. “Indeed, there is no indication of remorse,” Settle said.
A federal jury convicted the five anti-war demonstrators of conspiracy, trespass and destruction of government property in December. They had faced up to 10 years in prison, and prosecutors recommended sentences ranging between six months and 36 months.
Court documents say the group cut through fences on Nov. 2, 2009, to reach an area near where nuclear warheads are stored in bunkers. The protesters put up banners, sprinkled blood on the ground, scattered sunflower seeds and prayed until they were arrested.
The Bangor base, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Seattle on Hood Canal, is home to 10 Ohio-class submarines, eight armed with Trident ballistic missiles and two with conventional weapons.
Prosecutors said in sentencing documents that the five trespassed into a restricted area, destroyed the Navy’s property and placed themselves and others in jeopardy.
About 250 demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse before Monday’s sentencing. Some demonstrators carried signs saying, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” according to Seattle radio station KOMO.
Kelly told KOMO before the sentencing that he was prepared to go to prison. “I think it’s really worth it. I have the solace of my conscience, as I think this is just one little step against nuclear weapons and someday we’ll be free, and maybe not in my lifetime, but I have hope.”
The five defendants said nuclear warheads stored at the base and on submarines there are illegal under international, national and humanitarian law, but a judge prohibited them from using international law and the lethality of nuclear weapons as a defense. The trial hinged on straightforward charges relating to trespassing and property damage.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Many people have been asking about how and where to send letters to our dear friends now that they are beginning their journey through our nationâ€™s glorious Criminal Justice System (think Rube Goldberg). Itâ€™s going to be a while before they are settled.
They are currently (temporarily) residing at the luxurious Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Sea Tac in Seattle. Click here to see a photo of this lovely five star property. Itâ€™s hard to estimate just when they will be moved to the prisons where they will stay for the duration of their sentences.
We are monitoring each personâ€™s status, and will update either the Contact or Support page with their addresses and any other pertinent information on a regular basis. I know many of your are anxious to write them (I know I am); it would be best to wait until they are settled as letters to their temporary digs may not reach them.
We will also be working to help get messages out to the world from the Disarm Now Plowshares prisoners of conscience, and will post their messages on the Blog as we hear from them. Rest assured that we will keep this Website and Blog going and it will continue to be the voice of the Disarm Now Plowshares five.
WASHINGTON (March 29, 2011) — The mantra, from President Obama on down, is that ground forces are totally ruled out for Libya. After all, the United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing the war explicitly rules out any “occupation” forces. But leave it to the top military officer of NATO, which takes over the war on Wednesday, to add an asterisk to that ban.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked Adm. James Stavridis about NATO putting forces into â€œpost-Gadhafiâ€ Libya to make sure the country doesnâ€™t fall apart. Stavridis said he “wouldn’t say NATO’s considering it yet.” But because of NATO’s history of putting peacekeepers in the Balkans — as pictured above — “the possibility of a stabilization regime exists.”
So welcome to a new possible “endgame” for Libya. Western troops patrolling Libya’s cities during a a shaky transition after Moammar Gadhafiâ€™s regime has fallen, however that’s supposed to happen.
Thousands of NATO troops patrolled Bosnia and Kosovo’s tense streets for years. And Iraq and Afghanistan taught the US and NATO very dearly that fierce insurgent conflict can follow the end of a brutal regime. In fact, it’s the moments after the regime falls that can be the most dangerous of all — especially if well-intentioned foreign troops become an object of local resentment.
In fact, Stavridis told Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that he saw “flickers of intelligence” indicating “al-Qaeda [and] Hezbollah” have fighters amongst the Libyan rebels.
The Supreme Allied Commander of NATO noted that the leadership of the rebels are “responsible men and women struggling against Col. Gadhafi” and couldnâ€™t say if the terrorist element in the opposition is “significant.” But the US knows precious little about who the Libyan rebels are.
The new prospect of NATO force on the ground in Libya seemed to alarm Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who got Stavridis to say that there’s “no discussion of the insertion of ground troops” in NATO circles. (And “to my knowledge” there aren’t troops there now, he said.) But Stavridis told Reed that the memory of the long NATO peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans is “in everyoneâ€™s mind.”
President Obama boasted about the rapidity with which the US and its allies got involved in Libya. Some defense wonks, like Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security, criticized Obamaâ€™s team for not exhibiting diligent planning before Operation Odyssey Dawn began. Obama didn’t signal an endgame in his Monday speech, just vowing not to use any ground forces to get there.
That was exactly what President Clinton promised in Bosnia — right before sending 20,000 US soldiers to enforce the 1995 Balkans peace deal. Because of the US’ commitments to NATO and NATO’s commitments to enforcing the peace accord, US peacekeepers ended up staying there for a decade. That history may be weighing on officers in Europe, but the Obama administration doesnâ€™t seem to be so troubled.
Update, 12:08 p.m.: Stavridis argued that it’s “premature” to talk about an exit strategy for Libya. And as a way of underscoring NATO’s resolve, he reminded senators that nearly 12 years after NATOâ€™s Kosovo air war, there are still 5000 peacekeepers in Kosovo, including 700 Americans.
Update, 12:33 p.m.: Got a question about the difference between Stavridis’ two jobs — chief of US European Command and NATO military leader — as it applies to Libya? Check out a blog post Stavridis wrote about it on Monday.
Update, 2:25 p.m.: I asked Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, about sending ground troops during a post-Gadhafi phase.
Any such “international peacekeeping force” would have to occur “through the United Nations, as well as the structures weâ€™re setting up in NATO,” and would require an “assessment of what the security needs are in post-Gadhafi Libya,” he said. But as for a US contribution, “I would rule it out for the time being. â€¦ the US has no plans, weâ€™re not doing any planning to have any boots on the ground in any fashion.”
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Gadhafi’s Military: Trained and Armed by Uncle Sam Justin Elliott, The War Room / Salon.com
(March 23, 2011) — The United States has trained the Libyan military in recent years and American manufacturers have sold the Gadhafi regime military equipment, putting the US in the strange situation of bombing a foreign force that it helped build up.
The extent and nature of all the training is not clear, but State Department figures show that the sale of millions of dollars worth of aircraft parts to Libya was approved in recent years — ironic, in hindsight, given the current focus on Gadhafi’s air force. The cooperation highlights how quickly America’s Libya policy has shifted as well as the sheer reach of US military training programs. In fiscal 2009, the US spent at least $536 million on training military personnel from 159 countries.
The backdrop for the cooperation between the American and Libyan militaries was improving relations between the two countries generally, following the announcement in 2003 by President Bush that Moammar Gadhafi had agreed to give up “weapons of mass destruction” programs. When John McCain visited Tripoli in the summer of 2009, Gadhafi’s son Muatassim pressed a receptive McCain on getting military supplies. McCain, according to a diplomatic cable describing the meeting, spoke of the cooperation between the two militaries:
“[McCain] encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome,” the cable says. “He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at US Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.”
It’s not clear how many Libyan officers have taken part in training at American war colleges. But in fiscal 2009 (the year beginning in October 2008), the most recent period for which the government has released data, the Defense Department spent about $30,000 training two Libyans in the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program.
An annual report on foreign military training talks about increasing spending for fiscal 2010, including a State Department program to teach English to Libyan officers. The report praises Libya as “an important partner in counterterrorism and regional stability,” and makes the case for future training.
“[S]uch training and language capability will improve the Libyan militaryâ€™s interoperability with US forces, facilitate interaction in potential future contingency operations such as joint CT and Peacekeeping Operations, and prepare Libyan military personnel for increased training opportunities,” the report says.
In September 2009, three senior Libyan military officers visited headquarters of the US Africa Command in Germany to receive “in-depth briefings on the command, how it functions and works with African militaries,” according to a DOD report. The Africa Command is now overseeing the bombardment of Libya.
Earlier that year, in March, “Libyan naval officers spent a day aboard the USS Eisenhower in the Mediterranean Sea to speak with crew members and watch flight deck operations,” according to the same report. That followed the January 2009 signing of a “memorandum of understanding” between the US and Libya on military cooperation.
There’s also evidence that Libya has purchased American weapons. More than $15 million in arms sales from US manufacturers to Libya were authorized by the government in fiscal 2009 alone, according to the State Department. (Only $400,000 of that was delivered that year; presumably the rest was delivered in later years, for which data is not yet available.) That sum was mostly authorized in the category of “aircraft and associated equipment.” That year more than 20,000 components and parts of aircraft were authorized for sale to Libya. In 2008, $46 million in military sales were approved by the government.
In late February, the State Department suspended all arms export licenses for Libya, suggesting there may have been a flow of US arms into the country until very recently.
US allies in the fight against Gadhafi have also been involved in arms deals with Libya, including Britain and France, which has reportedly sold missiles to the Libyans — something both countries, as well as the US, are probably regretting today.
Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin More: Justin Elliott
WASHINGTON (March 29, 2011) — In the months before Libyans revolted and President Barack Obama told leader Moammar Gadhafi to go, the US government was moving to do business with his regime on an increasing scale by quietly approving a $77 million dollar deal to deliver at least 50 refurbished armored troop carriers to the dictator’s military.
Congress balked, concerned the deal would improve Libyan army mobility and questioning the Obama administration’s support for the agreement, which would have benefited British defense company BAE. The congressional concerns effectively stalled the deal until the turmoil in the country scuttled the sale.
Earlier last week, after all military exports to the Gadhafi regime were suspended, the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls informed Capitol Hill that the deal had been returned without action — effectively off the table, according to US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the deal’s sensitive details.
State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner said the proposed license was suspended along with the rest of “what limited defense trade we had with Libya.”
The Gadhafi regime’s desire to upgrade its troop carriers was so intense that a Libyan official told US diplomats in Tripoli in 2009 that the dictator’s sons, Khamis and Saif, both were demanding swift action. Khamis, a commander whose army brigade reportedly attacked the opposition-held town of Zawiya with armored units and pickup trucks, expressed a “personal interest” in modernizing the armored transports, according to a December 2009 diplomatic message disclosed by WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website.
The administration’s own interest in the deal amounted to a first cautious step toward allowing a major arms purchase by Gadhafi’s regime even as US officials waved off other Libyan approaches for weapons systems and military aid.
Toner said senior diplomats had repeatedly warned the Gadhafi regime that “we would not discuss the possibility of lethal US arms sales until Libya made significant progress on human rights issues, visas and other areas of bilateral relationship.”
The old M113 troop transports are typically outfitted with a single machine gun. US officials said the now-scuttled deal would not have added new cannons or other guns because of strict rules that all defense sales to Libya had to be “non-lethal” defense products.
But despite the “non-lethal” restrictions, some defense industry experts said the proposal should have never gotten off the ground.
“This deal should have been a red flag,” said William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, a non-partisan Washington think tank. “Anything that makes troop transports more useable allows them to be applied to offensive purposes, even if you don’t add guns.”
On the whole, US defense shipments to Libya under the Obama and Bush administrations have been tightly screened in recent years. US sales were dwarfed by a tide of arms sold by European allies. European Union nations approved sales of $470 million in weapons to Gadhafi’s military in 2009 alone — a rush of Italian military aircraft, Maltese small arms and British munitions, according to a January EU arms control report.
By comparison, the US peak was $46 million in approved defense sales in the final year of the Bush administration in 2008 — up from $5 million in Libyan defense sales the year before. The $46 million included $1 million in explosives and incendiary agents, and Toner said the State Department approved shipments of blasting cartridges used in oil exploration. Other US officials cited concerns that such explosive agents could be converted to crude battlefield munitions.
Bush-era officials said the slight increase in Libya defense sales was worth it in return for the dismantling of the rogue nation’s atomic weapons program. “We were careful and measured in what we allowed Gadhafi to get,” said former ambassador Robert Joseph, who coordinated the 2003 nuclear agreement.
The Obama administration has lagged in providing figures for its recent defense sales, prompting pressure for more specifics from Congress as well as a request late last month for more details on Libyan licenses. One official familiar with defense issues said total military sales to Libya in the Obama administration’s first year in 2009 dropped to $17 million — but would have ballooned in 2010 had the $77 million armored car deal gone through.
Instead, the transaction ran headlong into congressional worries about the Gadhafi regime’s plans for the armored vehicles. The concerns came from both the Senate and House foreign relations committees, officials said.
“Congress doesn’t usually step in to stop these deals, so they clearly must have had serious reservations that the administration didn’t share,” said William Lowell, a veteran defense industry consultant who headed the State Department’s defense trade agency in the 1990s.
Libyan military officials long clamored to upgrade their old M113 transports. Despite a 1978 US ban on weapons sales, Libya apparently obtained its fleet of US-built, Vietnam-era transports around 1980, according to a defense industry official familiar with the deal.
In 2007, Libyan army generals told a visiting American delegation they wanted upgraded troop carriers as well as Chinook helicopters to speed their military’s transport, said a senior US official familiar with the request. European subsidiaries of major American defense firms were soon shuttling into Tripoli. General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman were among companies listed as attending the 2008 and 2010 Libya Defense and Security Exhibition in Tripoli.
At the same time, US military officials talked up Libya as a new client. Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, told a 2009 national security event in Washington that the US might supply Humvees to Libya as “non-lethal” aid. DSCA spokesman Charles Taylor said last week that a Humvee sale never materialized.
BAE had paired up with a Turkish firm, NUROL Holding, in a joint venture to modernize old M113s for other Mideast and Asian armies. The joint firm, FNSS Defense Systems, submitted the $77 million Libyan proposal in September 2009 to the State Department’s defense trade agency, officials said.
BAE is a British firm with a major US defense arm, BAE Systems, Inc., that was listed in 2010 as the nation’s 12th largest government contractor. Headquartered in Rockville, Md., the company’s US board is chaired by former Gen. Anthony Zinni, who retired at the end of Clinton administration; former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, an Obama foreign policy mentor; and former Bush administration Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.
Libyan officials wheedled for swift action. In a meeting with American diplomats in Tripoli in late 2009, a senior aide to Gadhafi’s son Saif said that he and his brother Khamis wanted the US to quickly approve the armored transport upgrades. The aide “requested an update on the status” of the joint venture, Ambassador Gene Cretz wrote on Dec. 14, 2009, in the cable published by WikiLeaks.
The Libyans’ obsession with troop transport also showed in their interest in Jordanian-built “Tiger” high-mobility vehicles and in MH-6 “Little Bird” helicopters previously denied by US officials. Both items could not be sold to Libya, US officials repeated, according to the memo.
The armored transport deal, though, sailed through. By late 2009, it was green-lighted by the State Department’s trade office, officials said. Under rules governing defense trade, the deal still required congressional oversight before it could be clinched — because of the high cost involved and the fact that troop carriers were deemed major military equipment.
But the deal soon bogged down in doubts. Officials noted that documents cited differing numbers of troop transports, ranging from 40 to 60 — raising alarm that the Libyans might be padding the figures to obtain additional parts. The committees also pressed the State Department for a clearer sense of how the Libyans would use the armored carriers, but complained they did not get definitive answers.
There were also concerns about BAE’s role. After months of negotiations with the Justice Department, the parent firm of the British-owned defense giant pleaded guilty in March 2010 to conspiracy and false statements charges, agreeing to pay a $400 million fine in a case involving questionable payments to a Saudi official and offshore shell companies.
The State Department then placed a “temporary administrative hold” on weapons export licenses sought by both BAE’s British and US entities. The department also said it was considering debarring BAE, a move that would limit the company’s ability to export items with US-made content.
The State Department has not debarred the defense firm, but BAE’s involvement added to uncertainty about the deal, officials said. “I’m a little surprised the right hand at State didn’t coordinate with what the left hand at Justice was doing,” said William Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council and a former senior Commerce Department official.
In a statement, BAE said that “responsible and ethical business conduct is fundamental to the success of our company and is evident in every aspect of our business, including in our participation in the Foreign Military Sales Program and our compliance with defense export control laws.”
By summer 2010, the deal was effectively scuttled, stalled by too many doubts.
“I think we should have been more careful,” Hartung said. “If Gadhafi wanted a quid pro quo, we should have given him oil equipment.”
Associated Press writer Bradley Klapper contributed to this report.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
ACTION ALERT: Stop Spending US Dollars on War in Libya
Bring our Libya War Dollars Home Roots Action
Without the authorization of Congress that the Constitution and the War Powers Act require, the President has taken the nation into yet another war. Best case predictions are that US military action in Libya will cost over $1 billion; one Republican senator says it may have already hit that mark.
With teachers, nurses and essential services being cut at home, can our country afford another war?
We care about civilians being brutalized by dictators. That’s why we question the billions in weapons our country is providing to dictatorships in Yemen, Bahrain and the rest of the region — including (until earlier this year) Gadaffi’s government in Libya.
Our government switched with hardly a pause from arming Gadaffi to bombing Libya. War is not the only option for assisting people, but it is the most costly in both blood and treasure.
President Obama on Monday said he would “never hesitate” to use the US military unilaterally to defend “interests” and “values,” including “maintaining the flow of commerce.” Fear of exactly that led the founders of this republic to give Congress the exclusive power to declare war.
Without the authorization of Congress that the Constitution and the War Powers Act require, the President has taken the nation into yet another war. Best case predictions are that US military action in Libya will cost over $1 billion.
We care about civilians being brutalized by dictators. Thatâ€™s why we question the billions in weapons our country is providing to dictatorships in Yemen, Bahrain and the rest of the region — including (until earlier this year) Gadaffiâ€™s government in Libya. The US government switched with hardly a pause from arming Gadaffi to bombing Libya.
You, our representatives in Congress, were not given an opportunity to vote on this new military action. If this precedent is allowed to stand, Congress will be powerless to say no to wars in future years.
Please cosponsor measures to curtail funding of this military action, such as the House amendment that Congressmembers Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, Pete Stark, Tom McClintock, Lynn Woolsey and Walter Jones are expected to introduce.
Please forward this email far and wide.
David, Aimee, Sarah and the RootsAction Team
RootsAction is an independent organization dedicated to creating a fair economy and ending militarism.
Cost of Libya Mission Nears
$1 Billion, but Khadafy’s Country
Not ‘a Vital Interest for the US’ Richard Sisk / New York Daily News
WASHINGTON (March 28, 2011) — The taxpayers’ bill for operations in Libya is headed to at least $1 billion in a conflict that the Pentagon chief said Sunday was not “a vital interest for the US.” Hundreds of millions have already been spent to take out Moammar Khadafy’s air defenses, bomb his tank columns and set up a no-fly zone, and lawmakers predicted a tough fight when the military comes to Congress for supplemental funding.
“Estimates are that about $1 billion has already been spent on an undeclared war in Libya,” said Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), a respected GOP voice on foreign policy. “Some would say only hundreds of millions,” Lugar said on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” “but who knows how long this goes on.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Clinton said that President Obama will address the concerns of Congress on the duration and costs of the third US war in the Mideast in an address to the nation on Monday night.
But Gates raised more questions when he said that Libya was not high on the list of US national security concerns. “I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the US,” Gates said, but he added that Libya was part of a Mideast region that was a vital interest. The costs for Libyan operations were building rapidly, and Gates said he could not predict how long the operations will last.
The opening barrage from offshore surface ships and subs involved more than 140 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a cost of at least $1 million apiece, according to military officials. The F-15 Eagle fighter that crashed last Monday, with both pilots ejecting safely, cost about $30 million, and the F-15s and F-16 Fighting Falcon jets maintaining the no-fly zone cost about $10,000 an hour to operate.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has projected that the costs of Libya operations could exceed $300 million weekly. The bill could go up considerably should the US begin arming and supplying the rebels, but Clinton said no decisions had been made on military aid to the opposition.
Under US air cover, the rebels have turned the tables on Khadafy’s forces, pushing westward to take several key oil towns along the coast, setting their sites on Sirte, Khadafy’s birthplace. Coalition forces bombed both Sirte and Tripoli heavily overnight.
Gates also charged that Khadafy was planting bodies at sites bombed by the coalition to make the US look bad. “We do have a lot of intelligence reporting about Khadafy taking the bodies of the people he’s killed and putting them at the sites where we’ve attacked,” Gates said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Obama Defends Military Intervention in Libya Al Jazeera
Read the full text of the Presidentâ€™s speech below.
WASHINGTON (March 29, 2011) — US president Barack Obama has defended America’s involvement in a military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya in a televised address to the nation.
Speaking to military officers and reporters at the National Defence University in Washington on Monday night, Obama said he refused to wait for images of slaughter of civilians before taking action.
In blunt terms, Obama said the Western-led air campaign had stopped Gaddafi’s advances and halted a slaughter that could have shaken the stability of an entire region and “stained the conscience of the entire world.”
“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” Obama said. “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and more profoundly our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.”
“I can report that we have stopped Gaddafi’s deadly advance,” the US president said. “We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supply of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power,” he said.
But he added that “it [Gaddafi’s departure] may not happen overnight”.
Against Regime Change
However, he said that broadening the international mission to include regime change would be a mistake.
“If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter,” he said.
Obama spoke on the eve of a 35-nation conference in London to tackle the crisis in the North African oil-exporting country and weigh political options for ending Gaddafi’s 41-year rule. Obama’s challenge was to define the limited purpose and scope of the US mission in Libya for Americans preoccupied with domestic economic concerns and weary of costly wars in two other Muslim countries, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US took the initial lead in the Western-led military action against Gaddafi, before NATO agreed to take over the operations. Obama said the US will transfer control to NATO on Wednesday. Obama said once that transfer occurs, the risk and cost to American taxpayers will be reduced significantly.
But Al Jazeera‘s Patty Culhane, reporting from Washington, said Obama’s speech had two striking contradictions. “The president said we must stand alongside those who work for freedom and at the same time he said we cannot be the policemen of the world only when it applies to our national interest. The president [seem to] be trying to explain why we have seen a lesser response to allies like Bahrain or Yemen,” she said.
Also, he said nothing about the exit strategy, our correspondent said. “He said nothing about … how does this end for the US military and he did not really mention anything about the cost, so this was a broad speech to the American public. but for those people, especially members of congress who have some very pointed questions, I don’t know if they are going to feel if they got the answers they were looking for,” she said.
The Presidentâ€™s Speech on the US and Libya US President Barack Obama delivered a 29-minute speech about military action in Libya and the democracy movements in the Middle East on March 28, 2011, at the National Defense University.
The following remarks were distributed by the White House.
FORT MCNAIR, WASHINGTON (March 28, 2011) — Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya — what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.
I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform who, once again, have acted with courage, professionalism and patriotism. They have moved with incredible speed and strength. Because of them and our dedicated diplomats, a coalition has been forged and countless lives have been saved.
Meanwhile, as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan, and going after al Qaeda all across the globe. As Commander-in-Chief, I’m grateful to our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and to their families. And I know all Americans share in that sentiment.
For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.
Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt — two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant — Muammar Qaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world — including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.
Last month, Qaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, “For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over.”
Faced with this opposition, Qaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. Then we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Qaddafi’s aggression.
We froze more than $33 billion of Qaddafi’s regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Qaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.
In the face of the world’s condemnation, Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misurata was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air.
Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the Arab League appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.
Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.
At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day.
Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.
We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Qaddafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi’s deadly advance.
In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies — nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey — all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.
To summarize, then: In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days.
Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.
Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi’s remaining forces.
In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role — including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation — to our military and to American taxpayers — will be reduced significantly.
So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.
That’s not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Qaddafi regime so that it’s available to rebuild Libya. After all, the money doesn’t belong to Qaddafi or to us — it belongs to the Libyan people. And we’ll make sure they receive it.
Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations. These discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Qaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve — because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.
Now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Qaddafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions.
The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community and — more importantly — a task for the Libyan people themselves.
In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all — even in limited ways — in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing needs here at home.
It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country — Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.
We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.
To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. 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.
Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful — yet fragile — transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power.
The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security. So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.
Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Qaddafi and usher in a new government.
Of course, there is no question that Libya — and the world — would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.
The task that I assigned our forces — to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone — carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.
As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do — and will do — is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Qaddafi leaves power.
It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Qaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Qaddafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Qaddafi’s side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.
Let me close by addressing what this action says about the use of America’s military power, and America’s broader leadership in the world, under my presidency.
As Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than keeping this country safe. And no decision weighs on me more than when to deploy our men and women in uniform. I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests. That’s why we’re going after al Qaeda wherever they seek a foothold. That is why we continue to fight in Afghanistan, even as we have ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops from that country.
There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security — responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us. They’re problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.
In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.
That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States — in a region that has such a difficult history with our country — this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”
This voice is just one of many in a region where a new generation is refusing to be denied their rights and opportunities any longer.
Yes, this change will make the world more complicated for a time. Progress will be uneven, and change will come differently to different countries. There are places, like Egypt, where this change will inspire us and raise our hopes. And then there will be places, like Iran, where change is fiercely suppressed. The dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns will have to be addressed.
The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference.
I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed at one’s own people; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.
Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.
My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas — when the news is filled with conflict and change — it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star — the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.
But let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer, our own future is brighter, if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.
Tonight, let us give thanks for the Americans who are serving through these trying times, and the coalition that is carrying our effort forward. And let us look to the future with confidence and hope not only for our own country, but for all those yearning for freedom around the world.
Thank you. God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) Thank you
“[uranium tipped missiles] fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way…. I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.”
— Marion Falk, chemical physicist (retd), Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA
(March 27, 2011) — In the first 24 hours of the Libyan attack, US B-2s dropped forty-five 2,000-pound bombs. These massive bombs, along with the Cruise missiles launched from British and French planes and ships, all contained depleted uranium (DU) warheads.
DU is the waste product from the process of enriching uranium ore. It is used in nuclear weapons and reactors. Because it is a very heavy substance, 1.7 times denser than lead, it is highly valued by the military for its ability to punch through armored vehicles and buildings.
When a weapon made with a DU tip strikes a solid object like the side of a tank, it goes straight through it, then erupts in a burning cloud of vapor. The vapor settles as dust, which is not only poisonous, but also radioactive.
An impacting DU missile burns at 10,000 degrees C. When it strikes a target, 30% fragments into shrapnel. The remaining 70% vaporises into three highly-toxic oxides, including uranium oxide. This black dust remains suspended in the air and, according to wind and weather, can travel over great distances. If you think Iraq and Libya are far away, remember that radiation from Chernobyl reached Wales.
Particles less than 5 microns in diameter are easily inhaled and may remain in the lungs or other organs for years. Internalized DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of the lung and bone, skin disorders, neurocognitive disorders, chromosome damage, immune deficiency syndromes and rare kidney and bowel diseases. Pregnant women exposed to DU may give birth to infants with genetic defects. Once the dust has vaporised, don’t expect the problem to go away soon. As an alpha particle emitter, DU has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.
In the ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq, more than 1,500 bombs and missiles were dropped on Baghdad alone. Seymour Hersh has claimed that the US Third Marine Aircraft Wing alone dropped more than “five hundred thousand tons of ordnance”. All of it DU-tipped.
Al Jazeera reported that invading US forces fired two hundred tons of radioactive material into buildings, homes, streets and gardens of Baghdad. A reporter from the Christian Science Monitor took a Geiger counter to parts of the city that had been subjected to heavy shelling by US troops. He found radiation levels 1,000 to 1,900 times higher than normal in residential areas. With its population of 26 million, the US dropped a one-ton bomb for every 52 Iraqi citizens or 40 pounds of explosives per person.
William Hague has said that we are in Libya ” to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas”.You don’t have to look far for who and what are being ‘protected’.
In that first 24 hours the ‘Allies’ ‘expended’ Â£100 million on DU-tipped ordnance. The European Union’s arms control report said member states issued licences in 2009 for the sale of Â£293.2 million worth of weapons and weapons systems to Libya. Britain issued arms firms licences for the sale of Â£21.7 million worth of weaponry to Libya and were also paid by Colonel Gadaffi to send the SAS to train his 32nd Brigade.
For the next 4.5 billion years, I’ll bet that William Hague will not be holidaying in North Africa.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(March 27, 2011) — US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates affirms that the intensity of the military campaign in Libya will ease soon, as allied forces imposed a no-fly zone on Muammar Gadhafiâ€™s regime, empowering rebels to strengthen their eastern Benghazi stronghold, while Libyan rebels in Benghazi have created a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by Gadhafi.
At a press conference in Moscow, Gates affirmed: The fighting â€œshould recede in the next few days.â€ Rebel fighters advanced on the key gateway city of Ajdabiya, which is currently held by Gadhafi loyalist troops, according to Associated Press.
Tensions between the US and Russia over coalition air strikes in Libya are high, with Moscow calling for an immediate cease-fire to protect civilians, while Washington affirms that the claims of Libyan casualties were Gadhafi lies.
Meanwhile, Gadhafiâ€™s army units continued to shell the western, rebel-held city of Misrata for a second day, residents confirm.
The massive conflict to oust Gadhafi and his cowardly, blood thirsty thugs, began in February in Benghazi, is the most deadly in a series of uprisings that have spread across the Middle East this year and ousted the leaders of both Egypt and Tunisia.
What the coalition, led by France, the US, and Britain will do next is a mystery, as Gadhafi remains in power and a no-fly zone called for by the United Nations Security Council is now in place. By way of comparison, the US imposed a no-fly zone over Iraq for twelve years before Saddam Hussein was ousted.
Jan Techau, director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Brussels and former NATO defense analyst, said:
â€œIâ€™m not convinced we have much of a strategy or goals,â€
â€œOur own set-up and lack of a real plan is more worrying than a backlash in the Arab world, which so far isnâ€™t happening.â€
Contemporaneously, oil traded near its highest price in over a week as the airstrikes threatened to extend a supply disruption, while Libyan rebels in Benghazi have formed a new national oil company to replace the corporation controlled by Gadhafi.
Libya supplies 2% of the worldâ€™s oil, as poil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest on the planet, with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60Ã—10^9 m3) as of 2007. Libyaâ€™s assets were frozen by the United Nations Security Council.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.