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Paul Richter writes: "US and allied forces prepared to conduct military operations against Libya after the United Nations Security Council authorized international action to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi from using indiscriminate slaughter to quell a monthlong revolt."

Tobruk residents take to the streets to celebrate a decision by the United Nations Security Council to OK a no-fly zone over Libya, 03/17/11. (photo: Luis Sinco/LAT)
Tobruk residents take to the streets to celebrate a decision by the United Nations Security Council to OK a no-fly zone over Libya, 03/17/11. (photo: Luis Sinco/LAT)



UN Authorizes Military Action Against Kadafi

By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

18 March 11

 

RSN Special Coverage: Egypt's Struggle for Democracy


US and allied forces began preparing for military operations against Libya despite doubts the outgunned rebels can be saved.

S and allied forces prepared to conduct military operations against Libya after the United Nations Security Council authorized international action to prevent Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi from using indiscriminate slaughter to quell a monthlong revolt.

With the outgunned rebels in retreat, the council on Thursday authorized "all necessary measures" to protect civilians, giving its blessing to attacks on Libyan aircraft and ground forces now encircling the final opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

"Today, the Security Council has responded to the Libyan people's cry for help," Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said after the vote.

She said the resolution became necessary because "Kadafi and those who stand by him continue to grossly and systematically abuse the most fundamental human rights" despite earlier UN sanctions. "Today's resolution is a powerful response ... to the urgent needs on the ground."

Pentagon officials, noting that they and European allies have warships and aircraft positioned nearby, said military operations could begin quickly. While officials said that it might take a week to mount a full no-fly zone, surgical strikes could begin before that.

At the same time, US officials cautioned that the US and allies intended to limit their involvement, allowing no "boots on the ground."

Kadafi lashed out in anticipation of the vote, warning that Libya would mount terrorist attacks across the Mediterranean for years if foreign powers took up arms against him.

"If the world gets crazy, we will get crazy," declared Kadafi, who said he was ordering his forces to attack Benghazi on Friday.

In Tripoli, some reacted with shock at the news that the council had authorized military intervention to protect what government supporters describe as armed insurgents.

"Civilians holding guns, and you want to protect them? It's a joke," said Mohammad Salah, a 32-year-old dentist who has been serving as a volunteer translator for Western reporters in the capital. "We are the civilians. What about us?"

"This decision is not good," said a consultant who asked that his name not be used. "It means more blood and more war. It will be like Iraq again. Many people will be killed on both sides. You have to have dialogue and discussions."

But Libya's deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim, told reporters early Friday that he did not think there would be airstrikes. He said the government welcomed the language in the resolution that called for protecting civilians and maintaining the country's territorial integrity.

He also warned other countries against arming the rebels.

Meanwhile, the sky over Benghazi was ablaze with celebratory fireworks as news of the UN vote spread. And in the seaside eastern city of Tobruk, rebels fired rifles, boys climbed to rooftops, families danced and young men sped through streets with flags flapping out of windows to celebrate the vote.

It was a stunning, joyous scene in rebel territory where people in recent days had become distraught and angry with the international community for not helping to stop the Libyan leader's air attacks on cities and towns. The UN vote instantly turned bitterness and fear into a sense of impending victory.

"We will go to Benghazi and then march to Tripoli," said Abdullah Uma, holding a shotgun while driving a car loaded with young, cheering men. "Kadafi is done."

The Obama administration and many allies have been deeply reluctant to embark on military action as the uprising unfolded, fearing a plunge into another uncertain military involvement in a Muslim land. But US officials, as well as those of key allies, have grown increasingly worried that the uprising could end in a humanitarian disaster.

A senior US official said the administration had hoped that the Libyan uprising would evolve "organically," like those in Tunisia and Egypt, without need for foreign intervention.

"Everyone hoped that would be the case here, and no one could say that the US was behind it," he said. "But when ... it looked like there might be an imminent slaughter, there was a responsibility on the part of the international community not to let it happen."

The administration had decided that it would not become involved except with UN blessing, broad international participation and agreement by Arab nations that they would play an active part, to dispel perceptions that the US was again intervening to protect its oil supplies. On Saturday, the Arab League voted to accept an international no-fly zone.

Since then, officials said, they have been laying the diplomatic and military groundwork for action.

Even so, many diplomats remained cautious about whether the moves would be effective, or come soon enough.

Some diplomats suggested privately that the last-minute diplomacy could also be aimed, at least in part, at giving political cover to the Obama administration and other governments that are facing criticism that they have not mobilized quickly enough against a leader treated as an international pariah for decades.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking to a crowd in Tunisia, said: "We want to support the opposition who are standing against the dictator. This is a man who has no conscience and will threaten anyone in his way."

She predicted that Kadafi would do "terrible things" to Libya and other countries because "it's just in his nature."

The prospect of American military involvement was greeted with enthusiasm and worry in Congress.

In a hearing, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged quick action, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) emerged from a classified briefing declaring that "I learned it's not too late."

But Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) warned of unpredictable consequences.

"These things are easily begun and often very difficult to end," Webb said.

The UN resolution declares that humanitarian relief, not aid for the rebels, is the aim of military action. But US officials contend that UN action could immediately help the rebels by giving them reason to hang on in the face of growing odds.

It may also prevent a panicked exodus of civilians in eastern Libya, which could also contribute to a humanitarian disaster.

The council voted 10 to 0, with five abstentions, for the resolution. Germany, China, Russia, India and Brazil abstained.

Staff writers Peter Nicholas, Ken Dilanian, Lisa Mascaro and Christi Parsons in Washington, Tina Susman in New York, Jeffrey Fleishman and David Zucchino in Tobruk, Libya, and Borzou Daragahi in Tripoli, Libya, contributed to this report.

 

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+5 # josé wellington 2011-03-18 08:23
This is what american warfare corporations are expecting to make profit - another foreign intervention...
 
 
+2 # Activista 2011-03-18 08:27
said military operations could begin quickly - another Iraq - another civil WAR for OIL - read carefully what people say in Tripoli.
This is tribal war - conducted by foreign interest and ex-Kadafi generals.
""We will go to Benghazi and then march to Tripoli," said Abdullah Uma, holding a shotgun while driving a car loaded with young, cheering men. "Kadafi is done."
Pathetic UN resolution - East Libya should separate - JOIN Egypt - but wait where is the OIL? Under Tripoli/Libyan people control - Iraq scenario is repeated - destroy most prosperous African country by NEOCONS. They have social medicine and profit sharing ...
 
 
+1 # Day Waterbury 2011-03-18 08:40
http://www.answercoalition.org/national/news/stop-us-un-military-intervention-libya.html
 
 
+5 # Activista 2011-03-18 11:38
Quoting Day Waterbury:
http://www.answercoalition.org/national/news/stop-us-un-military-intervention-libya.html

U.S./U.N. intervention will not bring “democracy” or “freedom” to the Libyan people. There is no such thing as “humanitarian intervention” for the U.S. government. Progressive people must tear the mask off the phony humanitarian slogans being used by the White House, the Secretary of State and the Pentagon about their “deep concern” for the fate of the Libyan people......
Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa. Washington knows this. It would like nothing more than to have a stable client government in place that would allow U.S. bases on the ground and control of the oil supply.
 
 
+4 # in deo veritas 2011-03-18 09:35
If we are protecting our oil sources, does this mean that we have been buying oil from this maniac who has used the proceeds to oppres his people? Considering the stupidity of our foreign policy to support every lousy dictator, including the Shah, Saddam, etc. etc. when it suited the interests of the Wall Street gangsters it wouldn't surprise me at all.
 
 
+4 # Foxtrottango 2011-03-18 10:44
Anything to keep the war industries going, folks. What better way than to go bomb and kill more innocent people abroad. When a nation's political system is on the vergo of incompetence, look for other excuse to divert attention. What the US should do is to kick out, jail, put in prison all of it's republicans and half of democrats. That is the only way, America and Europe is going to survive. With Japan nuking itself, the rest of the world is soon to follow.

Mankind, after all, is his own worst enemy and the only species on the planets that merit extinction. Too bad all the other living species on the planet will also suffer.
 
 
+3 # DaveW 2011-03-18 18:26
Foxtrottango, You sum up the situation very well. "Winston,what country are we at with, Eastasia or Eurasia." G.Orwell 1984
 
 
-16 # Ted Fernandez 2011-03-18 10:53
This is just what Obama needed to take the attention away from everything else has screwed up! When you are over 14 trillion dollars in debt and headed for 15.5 trillion and your GDP (total profits/ income etc of everyone and all companies) is only 14 trillion..you are broke. When you have an income of 2.2 trillion (taxes) and are spending 3.6 trillion you are broke, when you have a president that did not complete a budget for 2011, you are in trouble, when you have a president that has added 5.5 trillion dollars to the national debt in 2 years, you are in trouble, when you have a president that wants to keep spending and borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar he spends, you are in trouble, when you have financial problems/debt, bad economy, serious killings/illega l immigration on your borders, you are in trouble, high unemployment that must be addressed and your president decides to get involved in libya, you are in trouble. When you have a president that kills jobs by stopping the drilling for oil when 14 million are unemployed and 8 million are under employed, you are in trouble, when you have a president that does not believe we should use Oil, Gas, Nuclear or Coal energy, you are in trouble.
 
 
+3 # Activista 2011-03-18 11:43
Ted - this is military spending - costpofwar.com that killed USA - military deficit spending started by Reagan - 30 years ago.
Calculate where we would have been if we did spend the same percent on bombs as EU and did not give 3 billions plus (60 billions plus) to Israel.
 
 
+7 # Glen 2011-03-18 13:08
My standard joke now is that the airforce should sell a jet and help fix the budget. I used that comment when at the school and attempting to raise money for decent programs for students. We have to grub for such money. Let the airforce have bake sales to pay for their damned jets.
 
 
+1 # Romesh Bhattacharji 2011-03-18 22:18
Good. About time. Will Bahrain be next? Despite the US naval base there?
 
 
0 # rm 2011-03-20 05:17
Richter writes, "The Obama administration and many allies have been deeply reluctant to embark on military action as the uprising unfolded, fearing a plunge into another uncertain military involvement in a Muslim land. But US officials, as well as those of key allies, have grown increasingly worried that the uprising could end in a humanitarian disaster."

What bullshit. Do we need this kind of idiocy? The rebels are armed, financed, and trained by the CIA. The US fully intends a regime change and occupation -- though the actual occupation may rely on mercenaries and the Egyptian Army. But there will be plenty of US special ops and CIA on hand to call the shots.

We've seen all of this before. Doesn't Richter remember Yugoslavia or Iraq?

The US never calls for a no fly zone when the Israelis bomb Palestinians. Why. Because the US does not want a regime change in Israel.
 
 
0 # Dale 2011-03-20 10:43
Villafy a leader, create bullshit atrocities, then go about bombing and overthrowing the villan, killing endless numbers of civilians, destroy a country...Shade s of Irag and Afghanistan, not to mention Fidel Castro and Cuba and others who dont tow the U.S. line.
 
 
0 # Henry Samuels 2011-05-25 15:14
With regards to reporters Paul Richter and Edmund Sanders concerning the Israely prsidents speech to the congress, they don't have a clue to the past history as they probably were not born at that time. If they would take some time to study about the history of what has been going on throughout the years and our previous presidents spending some much time to resolve the differences with the palestinians. The palestinians were not satisfied with the land that they had, so they and the Syrians attacked Israel during 1967 on a very holy religious day. Now they want that land back allready. The news correspondents should attend the palestinian schools to see what kind of hate they are teaching the students. The people should get wise to their government who are brain washing them with hate and wake up to reality.
 

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