Action Alert

POLL: What military intervention in Libya could mean for Americans

In moments, the UN security council will vote on a resolution for military intervention in Libya. We already wrote about our serious concerns about the implications of an NFZ. Not the least of which is the concern that this could draw Americans into a third war in the Middle East. But the UN resolution goes much farther than just a no-fly zone, initiating an open-ended military action by authorizing a long term bombing campaign, and “all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian objects.” This is a big deal, folks, and it’s happening very fast. Please take the poll below to let us know what you think, and add your thoughts in the comments.

This is what Sen. Richard Lugar had to say at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today (emphasis mine):

“Clearly, the United States should be engaged with allies on how to oppose the Qaddafi regime and support the aspirations of the Libyan people,” said Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) at the start of the committee’s Thursday morning hearing on the Middle East. “But given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame in a civil war, the strains on our military, and other factors, I am doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.”

Lugar pointed to the fact that 145,000 American troops are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the annual U.S. budget deficit is already around $1.5 trillion.

“In this broad context, if the Obama administration decides to impose a no-fly zone or take other significant military action in Libya, I believe it should first seek a Congressional debate on a declaration of war under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution,” Lugar said.

As Secretary Gates has already said, even a no-fly zone “begins with an attack on Libya”, would involve “massive bombing” to take out any Libyan efforts to shoot down the planes, and require hundreds of aircraft. Civilian casualties could be massive, and it could certainly lead to the US being drawn deeper into Libya’s civil war.

Given the high stakes and grave risks for Americans, we believe that Congress can’t just sit back and watch this happen. They need to get in the game and start hashing out what’s best for Libyans, and for the American people. That’s why we’re asking you to click here to take action right away.

I also know that many Americans want to help Libyans fighting for their freedoms, and there has been broad support for a no-fly zone. Peace Action West has been pushing for peaceful alternatives, such as using our ships and planes to power a massive humanitarian aid mission, a move that could make a real difference to Libyans fighting for their rights. As we outlined here, there is ample reason to believe this would be more effective than military measures.

What do you think? Please let us know by taking this poll, and adding your thoughts in the comments.

42 replies »

  1. NO MORE WARS!!!!!!
    Enough already!!!!!
    Put the money into education, infrastructure, health.
    Enough lives have been ruined or lost.

  2. This is status quo for America the biggest proponent of war the earth has ever known. Who wins??? well the same companies and banks that always win while the rest of us and the earth lose. I have come to the conclusion that the only way to beat their system is to not pay them through our taxes. By paying the state taxes means we comply and agree to how the money is spent. We can take to the streets like we did to protest the Iraq invasion and the banker bailout, but the state does not listen or care for our opinions and will do whatever it deems necessary to keep it’s power.

    • I totally agree enough already! Want less, spend less, earn less, stay out of debt and/or just move to another country if you can… is the only way to legally stop supporting wars. Ps congrats to our nobel peace prize winning president for creating BOMBS WITHOUT BORDERS.

  3. If the US Government, a wholly owned subsiudary of Trans National World,Inc. is so damned concerned about people being oppressed by their (unelected ) “leaders” when can we expect the no-fly zone over Arabia?

  4. Perhaps Egypt can intervene to aid the Libyan people? We need to get out of Afganistan now, and where the h^&^ is Osama Bin Laden. I am totally at a loss for words.

  5. I hope the allies will take the lead. It is appalling what is going on over there, and people’s attentions have shifted to Japan. But, yes, I agree that there should be no more war, it needs to stop! How many more lives will be lost, American, Libyan and others? The whole thing is a conundrum, and everyone, everywhere, is overwhelmed!!! Why is there such a malaise in humanity?

  6. I disagree with Jon Rainwater’s contention that US/UN intervention in Kosovo cost lives. It in fact saved lives and should have been launched much earlier, but Bob Dole and republicons in Congress were opposed. It was Bill Clinton’s most courageous moment…and now US soldiers were killed.

    • Thanks Demos. You are right that there is debate about the results in Kosovo. It’s not an easy call when there are opportunities to help civilians. But there are a lot of facts that people agree on that point to the bombing campaign doing at least some serious harm to civilians. There are some facts that need to be taken into account whether you think this was Clinton’s finest moment or you think it was an unlawful war. For example:

      The NATO bombing campaign did kill many civilians including attacks on civilian targets and indiscriminate attacks that killed innocent people and did great economic harm. The bombing destroyed hundreds of civilian targets including schools, factories, and apartment buildings. For me this is deeply problematic. The UN resolution yesterday is arguably overly broad in a way that could allow this to happen in Libya. Will the Libyan campaign avoid this?
      The NATO campaign included the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium that harmed civilians. Amnesty International documented in detail NATO’s breaking the law of war (aka war crimes) in these areas. One can have supported the Kosovo intervention and still agree it was not carried out correctly.

      Many analysts have pointed out that a lot of the atrocities came after the NATO bombing campaign started and believe that some of Milosevic’s worst killing on the ground was sped up or caused by the bombing. Some ex-diplomats, elected officials, and military experts directly involved in the Kosovo campaign on NATO’s side have made these arguments. They have argued that a diplomatic solution was available that could have allowed for less killing and avoided the bombing campaign.

      These are not black and white issues. But the argument that the NATO Kosovo bombings did more harm than good need to be carefully rebutted if you want to make the case it worked. I have not seen anyone successfully do that.

      There may be just wars. But there are no good wars and our country and our President need to grow out of the notion that there are good wars. War leads to violence, destruction, and sorrow. War until now is usually carried out in very messy ways, despite the mythology of surgical strikes. We should not be too quick to pull the proverbial trigger.

  7. During our own Revolution, Admiral DeGrasse embargoed supplies and reinforcements from reaching General Cornwallis at Yorktown, enabling the historic British defeat that “turned the World upside down.” French troops never intervened directly, other than volunteers like the Marquis de Lafayette: the victories and defeats, suffering and triumphs were our own, with the help of some French provisions.

    Today, Western powers are already embargoing Libya, and some back door supply is taking place. Volunteers are free to offer their services, if desired. To go further would transform the Libyan Revolution into a US – Libyan war, which would end up looking like another colonialist/imperialist bashing of a small state by a vastly greater one. Another moral defeat and eventual costly quagmire.

    Postulating a sincere, disinterested desire to help the Libyan freedom fighters, the anatomy of a moral and political dilemma is revealed: by intervening, we transform the people’s revolutionary struggle into something else, regardless of the purity of our intentions – it is the political equivalent of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. This is the tragic flaw of our naive and hubristic, even if sincere, journey “in search of monsters to destroy”.

  8. Lovely Italy says we can use their landing strips, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia and France say Okey Dokey. I say we do nothing, allow our fine friends have their war we’ve enough. No sexism intended but please Men you must stop with the Military Engagements, women do not start wars. This is fact. You all need to have at minimum a one year Diplomatic roundtable before any more of our families are murdered, civilians murdered or as the Military Industrial Complex gently put it, ‘Collateral Damage’. I say we don’t do one damn thing. Enough…..

    • It’s a great question. The Arab League and some people from the Libyan opposition have asked for international support for no-fly zones. However this article has some important points about the fact that that support evaporates once the conversation turns to talk of military strikes and bombing campaigns — which would be necessary to establish and maintain a no-fly zone. I encourage you to read more here:

      • I saw yesterday where an anti Gadhafi civilian heading for the boarder was very frustrated and crying and was quoted in saying ” how many more innocent people need to die before the world will helps us?” It’s sad and it does make you want to help them.

        On the other hand. When is American going to worry about America for a change. Would be nice to see our own government jump to our own aid as fast as they jump to foreign aid.

  9. Well, the UN Security Council did vote to authorize a no fly zone. This decision coupled by the fact that they voted against any military ground invasion, marks a great day for the UN. I can understand the right wingers who argue we don’t have vital interests in Libya so let the Italians and the French take care of the “mess” over there. I can also understand folks who are opposed to any military action on philosophical grounds. I can not understand those who claim they stand for social justice, peace, and human rights oppose a UN authorized no fly zone. It would be wrong for US to take the lead for many reasons. However, it would be morally wrong for us to stand on the side lines and not advocate for those measures that would simply give the freedom loving people of Libya a chance to fight against a mad man who is posed to massacre them.

    Lastly, I am sorry to see an organization I support, resort to mis-leading statements such as the one questioning the role We played in Kosovo or mis-guided suggestions such as to limit our involvement by providing “massive humanitarian support” when there is a civil war going on in Libya and when there is a dictator on one side and those who want the same democratic rights as we enjoy here in the United States on the other side.

    • “played in Kosovo”?…last I heard we are still PLAYING in Kosovo. Arab tribal warfare is just about the last place we should be choosing sides on…let alone the KING Abdullah side. The Freedom-loving people of Eastern Libya don’t abide any Sharia Law do they?

  10. supply the willing active dissenters with all sorts of defensive &offensive tools at the egyptian borsder.

  11. I though you were a PEACE organization? Why are you asking if the USA and it’s client capitalist states should bomb Libya? The USA government and it’s client states actually have no regard for the people of Libya. Their bombing will destroy many more people than have died so far. Their only real interests are to establish another client state and to get the oil.

  12. The US is still in Iraq, Afghanistan, has $4 gasoline, almost 10% unemployment, is 14 trillion dollars in debt, many have lost their homes, we have open borders and buy almost everything from China. I would like to know how many members of peaceactionwest voted for Obama and Change. Maybe we just got what we ask for – – –

      ALL STUPID????

  13. For once in a hundred years, Lets STAY OUT OF LIBYA!!

    We ALWAYS come out with snubbed noses when we get into these local problems. We have NOTHING to gain and EVERYTHING to lose in this situation.

    Getting involved in this is MADNESS!!!

  14. I can only judge by what I would want if I were fighting for my freedom and the terrible truth is I would want the support of the UN. I feel it is a human rights call.

  15. The United States can not get involved in another invasion of a sovereign country. A No Fly Zone means military action to enforce it. It is not a neutral position. This is not about supporting a people’s liberaton movement. If it was we would be in many countries around the world. The U.S. must take a diplomatic approach and not get involved militarily.

  16. The US does not intervene when there is no US interest at stake. Look at Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Haiti, etc. The fact that Libya has oil is the reason the US is considering this. But we would only be helping ourselves, not Libyans. We should debate the use of the US military in Libya in light of our own on-going challenges and commitments. And it would be poor judgement to get involved militarily in Libya when we are still engaged in two unpopular and unethical (if not illegal) occupations already. Anyone who wants to help people should start here at home with our own issues, which are substantial: corporate takeover of gov’t., corporate takeover of labor, corporate monopoly on our food safety (or lack of it), unsustainable energy extraction and use, unsustainable healthcare system, unsustainable financial sector, degradation of our environment, etc. Pick your favorite. Libya must sort their country out themselves. Humanitarian aid is a different story, but not the military.

    • Michael,
      Spoken like a true Patriot, your right on spot, to bad so many people are brainwashed in believing that war settles everything.

      • So the people in the USA are NOT brainwashed? Humanitarian aid that a sorry joke, and the real reason would be NOT be the OIL get real and wake up you all. Establishing a No Fly Zone is a act of war period and only way war can be inacted is vote in congress, not the UN. That is if anyone wants to check that out in the Constitution Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 .
        The UN, the world would be better off without it for example Agend 21, Codex Alimentarius and WHO. Go further then mainstream reports into the actitives of these UN groups. Checkout

  17. ARM THE REBELS, Arm the rebels , NO no-fly zone it’s worked better than military intervention in the past. We should have no moral dilemma about it , after all we have armed the Libyan dictator.

  18. As a longtime pacifist and Quaker, I am usually opposed to military intervention. However, the fact that the UN decision has led to an immediate declaration of a ceasefire by the Libyan government tells me the situation is more complex.

  19. The U.S. had to join the U.N. and especially the Arab League in this. If we stayed out of it things would not look good for us.The Arab league never supports this kind of action and it did in this case. We have to join the coalition with stopping this disgusting dictator. I’m glad that France and England took the lead. That is the only reason I don’t have a problem with this. There is a marching force happening in the world right now and we must support it. As Obama said, ” A new generation has moved the wheel of history at a blinding pace”. And it continues! This isn’t the same situation as Iraq.

  20. The only wars that the United States can fight any more are unconstitutional whether it’s a George W. Bush in Iraq and Afghanistan or Berry Soetorro A.K.A. Barack H. Obama in Libya. The other part of this story is the U.S.A. can not afford these wars, their f**kin BROKE, when are they going to realize that and start living it like it is?
    The best thing for the world and the people of the U.S.A. would be if the government would pull all their troops out in all of the countries shut down all the bases, and start taking care of things back here in this country for a change and stop their senseless Imperialism tactics.
    In closing you folks there at Peace Action West can relax for the mean time for their not bombing Iran which is one of the BIGGEST mistakes these IDIOTS could ever do, that is and would be if they do it one the biggest preverbal cans of worms in history. But when you have nothing but MORONS running a country, you can look for STUPID things to be done. We need to pray that GOD will save the good ones of us.

  21. Military action to prevent violence upon fellow human beings is the moral course of action. This situation is different from Iraq or other U.S. military action promoting “national security interests”, which means, violence to promote one’s own interest. HERE, WE ARE SEEKING TO PREVENT VIOLENCE, AS A DEFENSIVE MEASURE. JUST ENOUGH FORCE TO PREVENT THE LOSS OF LIVES UPON FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS.

  22. In general, I feel that violence is not a solution. On the other hand, I am not opposed to self-defense, or stepping in to defend an innocent victim. The people opposed to Gadhafi are being brutalized. IF we could help them while making sure innocent lives are not threatened (including those of our own soldiers), it would make sense to be involved. I’m just not sure that’s possible. This is a complex issue.

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