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Before initiating military strikes against Libya yesterday to implement a no-fly zone and prevent Muammar Gaddafi's air force from killing Libyan rebels, the U.S. coalition obtained the approval of the Arab League. The approval of the Arab League led to the approval of the United Nations Security Council. With those approvals (but not the approval of Congress), Obama attacked Libyan air-defense systems with stealth bombers and cruise missiles. 114 cruise missiles were fired, according to NBC. Going beyond the mere enforcement of a no-fly zone, fighter jets attacked Gaddafi's ground forces in Benghazi:
Wait a minute. I thought this was just about enforcing a no-fly zone ? That's what we were told. Now it appears it's also about taking out Gaddafi's forces, which would justify almost any military action. What does that UN resolution actually say ???:
“4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;
“5. Recognizes the important role of the League of Arab States in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security in the region, and bearing in mind Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, requests the Member States of the League of Arab States to cooperate with other Member States in the implementation of paragraph 4; …
Under this resolution, it looks like America can bomb Gaddafi's forces forces anywhere it wishes. We could bomb Tripoli and say it was to keep civilians safe in Benghazi. The only thing we can't do is send in ground forces.
Gaddafi has called the military strikes an attack on Muslims by "crusader forces". Somebody should clue him into the fact that the Crusades ended over 800 years ago, that this isn't the Christians versus the Muslims anymore. This Medieval holy war stuff is getting very old, no pun intended.
Now that the Arab League-approved no-fly zone is being implemented via military strikes, the head of the Arab League is criticizing them:
A coordinated attack by Western forces targeting Libyan air capabilities and armor appears to have succeeded in damaging Libyan military installations and armor, but Arab support for the no-fly zone may be waning.
Arab League head Amr Moussa told reporters Sunday that the Arab league thought the use of force was excessive following an overnight bombing campaign that Libya claims killed at least 48 people.
"What we want is civilians' protection, not shelling more civilians," he was quoted saying by the Associated Press.
It sure didn't take long for Arab League support to waver. How does this Arab League guy think we can knock out Gaddafi's air defenses without killing people ? We may have smart bombs, but they aren't smart enough to distinguish a civilian from a soldier. And excuse me, Arab League and UN Security Council, but you waited until Gaddafi's men were already in Benghazi before you took action. What did you expect ?
Back home in America, even some liberal Democrats have noticed that President Obama bypassed Congress on his way to the shores of Tripoli:
A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.
Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.
Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn’t object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for American participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone during a White House Situation Room meeting on Friday, sources told POLITICO
I'm always heartened when Democrats notice we have a Constitution. That happens far too infrequently. According to the Constitution, Congress is the body that authorizes war. The President can only take unilateral action if there is a "clear and present danger" to America. That's not the case with Libya. Here's how one Constitutional scholar put it back in 2007. I have his name here somewhere...Let's see, what did I do with it ?...ah, here it is. The Constitutional scholar's name is Barack H. Obama. Here's what he said about the constitutionality of Presidents taking unilateral military action:
The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
Hmmm. Apparently, Obama agrees with Kucinich that Obama should be impeached for not obtaining congressional authorization. If there's a hearing, I wonder if Obama will testify against himself ?
In any case, it's worth repeating that the Libyan attack represents a new United Nations standard for engaging in military conflict. That standard now has a name:
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also said on Thursday that the justification for the use of force was based on humanitarian grounds, and referred to the principle known as Responsibility to Protect (R2P), “a new international security and human rights norm to address the international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”
“Resolution 1973 affirms, clearly and unequivocally, the international community’s determination to fulfill its responsibility to protect civilians from violence perpetrated upon them by their own government,” he said.
There are many countries committing crimes against humanity on a widespread scale. If this standard is truly going to be adopted, there are going to be PLENTY of military conflicts coming down the road.