Obama on Libya: Defending the Indefensible


by Stephen Lendman

March 30, 2011

Obama’s March 28 television address wreaked of hypocrisy, lies and disdain for basic democratic values, making an indefensible case for naked aggression against a non-belligerent country. America’s media approved.

On March 28, New Times writer Helene Cooper headlined, “Obama Cites Limits of US Role in Libya,” saying:

Obama “defended the American-led military assault in Libya on Monday, saying it was in the national interest of the United States to stop a potential massacre that would have ‘stained the conscience of the world,’ ” even though no threat existed until:

– Washington showed up with co-belligerents France and Britain;

– beginning in 2010, armed and funded so-called “rebels” who, in fact, are cutthroat killers, rapists and marauders, terrorizing every area they control, including their Benghazi stronghold; and

– support them with daily “shock and awe” terror attacks, causing increasing numbers of deaths and injuries, as well as destruction and contamination of all areas struck by depleted uranium bombs, missiles and shells, spreading radiation over wide areas.

Despite Pentagon denials, conservative estimates put civilian deaths at over 100, besides combatants killed and unknown numbers murdered by rebel allies. Since March 19 air attacks began, nearly 1,500 sorties have been flown, that number to rise exponentially as daily strikes continue under US command, running all NATO operations under AFRICOM’s General Carter Ham. Alleged new commander, Canada’s Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, is his subordinate, a Pentagon figurehead.

The alleged handover is fabricated. NATO is code language for America/the Pentagon. Obama lied announcing otherwise, saying Washington’s role will be limited to stop potential “slaughter and mass graves” in Benghazi. In fact, he supports and/or ignores rebel terror killings against defenseless civilians, making him complicit in their crimes, besides widespread ones caused by NATO, America’s missile. US attacks, in fact, will continue throughout the campaign, perhaps lasting months at an enormous cost, besides hundreds of billions annually in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Making an indefensible case, Obama said:

“For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Muammar Gaddafi,” ignoring the numerous regional and global ones America supports, including rogue Israeli regimes, lawlessly terrorizing Palestinians for over six decades with generous US support and funding.

Addressing the issue, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser, Denis McDonough, said:

“I think it’s very important that we see each of these instances….in the region as unique. We don’t get very hung up on the question of precedent….because we don’t make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent. We make them based on how we can best advance our interests in the region.”

Precisely true on the last point. However, policy decisions are very consistent. Allies are supported whether despots or democrats. Outliers are opposed, even benign ones posing no threat to America or neighbors. The rule of law is a non-starter. So are democratic values, “principles of justice and human dignity.”

Only imperial aims matter, especially resource and human exploitation adventurism for money and power. For generations, they’ve guided US policies, notably since WW II, at home and abroad.

Yet pseudo-left apologists back Obama’s Libya war, its faux “humanitarian intervention” to save lives, including darling of the left Rachel Maddow, defending the indefensible, pretending Obama’s different from Bush when, in fact, he’s worse, waging four, not two wars.

He also:

– supports others in Palestine, Yemen and Somalia;

– operates US Special Forces in at least 75 countries globally;

– backs killing US citizens abroad lawlessly;

– endorses holding detainees indefinitely without charge;

– practices torture as official US policy; and

– backs the worst of despotic states, notably in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt under a military junta, Algeria under a military dictatorship (Abdelaziz Bouteflika more figurehead than president), other GCC states, besides others in Africa, Eastern Europe and elsewhere.

Yet Maddow and other faux liberals call Obama a peace president. No matter how great the body count, she’s firm saying “he appears to be walking more of that walk as well as talking that talk.”

He indeed talks plenty while letting imperial forces reign death and destruction on non-belligerent nations, spends hundreds of billions of dollars, then claims we’re too broke to address vital homeland needs, especially social ones and crumbling infrastructure.

Cheerleading Print Media Support

For decades, The York Times endorsed all US imperial wars, the tradition maintained on March 28 in an editorial headlined, “President Obama and Libya,” saying:

Obama “made the right, albeit belated, decision to join with allies to try to stop (Gaddafi) from slaughtering thousands of Libyans,” despite clear evidence that Washington, France, Britain and rebel killers initiated attacks. Love or hate him, Gaddafi justifiably responded in self defense.

However, despite Obama’s willful deception and lies, The Times claimed he “made a strong case for why America needed to intervene in this fight – and why that did not always mean it should intervene in others,” notably against subservient despots, no matter how much “violence on a horrific scale” they cause.

“Most important,” said The Times, Obama “vowed that there would be no American ground troops in this fight.” A previous article explained otherwise, accessed through the following link:
http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/03/us-led-libyan-ground-a
ssault-planned.html

Numerous reports, in fact, suggest a ground assault is planned for late April-early May if air and rebel attacks don’t oust Gaddafi, what most experts believe unlikely.

On March 28, New York Times writers Kareem Fahim and David Kirkpatrick suggested as much, headlining “Rebel Advance Halted Outside Qaddafi’s Hometown,” saying:

“….the American military warned on Monday that the insurgents’ rapid advances could quickly be reversed without continued coalition air support,” quoting General Ham saying more, in fact, may be needed, stopping short of suggesting ground forces deployed offshore will invade.

Whatever lies ahead, no matter how bloody and destructive, The Times insisted Obama “made the right choice to act.”

So did the Washington Post, its editorial opinion headlined, “Mr. Obama and Libya: Where’s the strategy to preserve success?” saying:

Obama “was right to act, and he deserves the credit that he claimed….He was right” saying “we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles of freedom and nonviolence,” ones, in fact, America spurns at home and abroad, especially during direct or proxy imperial wars.

On March 29, a Wall Street Journal editorial headlined, “Obama, Libya and the GOP,” saying:

Obama “made a substantial case for his Libya intervention, (and) we welcome the effort….The credibility of US power is essential to maintaining our influence in a Middle East that is erupting in popular revolt against decades of injustice,” much, in fact, America caused.

US media opinions mostly expressed support. The Los Angeles Times said “no one can complain that he didn’t make a thoughtful, compelling case for his decision to intervene.” The Philadelphia Daily News endorsed “the Obama Doctrine….a rationale for the use of US force, (his Monday speech perhaps) the beginning of a saner foreign policy.”

The Chicago Tribune wondered whether a “humanitarian mission (set) a precedent that will be used to demand American involvement in other places.” The Boston Globe endorsed his “swift Libyan intervention (wrongly calling it) the first time Obama has ordered US troops into a new conflict, (then saying it’s) a key test of his presidency and a moment that allowed him to delineate his most comprehensive vision yet for America’s role in the world and the role of the military abroad.”

According to the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Stephen Flanagan, Obama “laid the beginnings of an Obama doctrine. He said that there are instances where our safety is not immediately threatened but our interests and values are, and in those cases….we will act, particularly when we can act with a broad international coalition” of willing co-belligerents plus others bullied and/or bribed to join or endorse imperial aggression against another targeted country.

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on “Public TV’s Libya Limits”

America’s Public Television (PBS) and National Public Radio rely heavily on government and corporate funds. As a result, they provide managed news like major media networks, suppressing hard truths on vital issues.

PBS’ Libya reporting is instructive, FAIR saying:

“Over the past two weeks, the (flagship) NewsHour has featured an array of current and former military and government officials in discussion segments – leaving little room for antiwar voices, US foreign policy critics and legal experts.”

NPR and PBS are similar, supporting state and corporate policies throughout their histories, depriving listeners and viewers of real news, information and opinions on vital issues.

The 1967 Carnegie Commission report (creating PBS) envisioned a “forum for debate and controversy (to) provide a voice for groups in the community that may be otherwise unheard.” NPR’s founding mandate was similar, yet both operations represent power, money and privilege, not popular interests they were established to serve.

A Final Comment

In his book “The Next Decade,” Stratfor Global Intelligence founder George Friedman “consider(s) the relation of the American empire to the American Republic and the threat the empire poses to the republic(‘s)” survival, given its addiction to war and abandonment of the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 provision letting Congress alone declare it. It was last done on December 8, 1941 against Japan.

As a result, seven US decades of wars have been lawless. Moreover, no nation may attack another except in self-defense or until the Security Council acts – lawfully according to the UN Charter. In authorizing a no-fly zone (an act of war), SC members acted illegally, brazenly violating international law, letting America and co-belligerents France and Britain wage imperial war against a nation posing no threat to them or neighboring states.

Friedman stressed the importance of congressional declarations of war, “requir(ing) meticulous attention to the law and proprieties.” However, he stopped short of addressing international law or explaining the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause. Under it, every treaty America ratifies automatically becomes US law, the UN Charter, of course, included. No congressional or presidential act may contravene it, what, in fact, happens regularly, especially on matters of war.

As a result, in a recent interview, University of Illinois Professor of International Law Francis Boyle was blunt, calling Obama’s war on Libya “plunder and aggression, (the) first major outright power grab by the United States and the major colonial, imperial powers against Africa in the 21st century.” For sure, it’s not the last.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

  1. #1 by spktruth200 on March 31, 2011 - 3:54 pm

    Corporate media lying again. ABC News in North Carolina report 2000 US troops on the ground in Libya. Russian doctors report we are bombing hospitals and residential homes (democracynow.org) show the hospital bombing on yesterdays show. CIA commander from Virginia named Hifler on the ground with the Libya rebels. Yup, just like Iraq and Afganistan we are being lied too. NATO is nothing without the US…we are now the worlds police force using Nato as the cover. Obama claiming he has the power to go into any soverign nation “if he determines there are human beings being abused”, proves he is fulfilling the Neo Con Bush Doctrine.. billions for wars to steal their resources”, while the pillage the american people with no jobs, no health care, no food stamps no social security no medicare no medicaid…wake up america…its time to massively hit the bricks. Obama is calculating…the repukes have no candidate who can beat him…so he has clear view to do whatever the corporate elites, pentagon tell him to do…

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