As Libya Conflict Persists, Obama Admin Continues to Ignore Democratic Process

David Szydloski -----

By David SzydloskiLast week, pro-Ghaddafi forces halted rebel advances and retook the strategically important oil refining city of Ra's Lanuf. Now, after a series of defections of high-profile members of Ghaddafi's government, Mohamed Ismail, a former aid to one of Ghaddafi's sons who defected to Britian, has communicated to British officials that Ghaddafi is closer to agreeing to a cease fire.Though it should be noted that Ghaddafi previously agreed to a cease fire at the beginning of the U.S./NATO air strikes, only to attack rebel forces, perhaps the attacks of the last two weeks have taken their toll on him. Whatever happens in Libya, the controversy surrounding the Obama administration's decision to intervene there will continue in the United States. The manner in which the Obama administration has dealt with three hot topics this week has only raised more questions.First, when asked whether or not the U.S. or its allies would arm anti-Ghaddafi forces, Obama said, "I'm not ruling it out and I'm not ruling it in," even though providing arms to the rebels would clearly be in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1970. Thus, the administration is in a strange spot of relying on UN support to legitimize its action in Libya, while ignoring the UN when it is convenient.Second, it was revealed last week that the level of American involvement in Libya was greater than many suspected when it was announced that Obama, in a "secret order" (technically called a “finding”) signed more than two weeks before the no-fly zone was established, authorized the CIA to deploy agents on the ground in Libya. Ostensibly, the goal of these operatives is to gather intelligence on rebel forces, particularly their leadership, as well as to identify targets for air strikes.Third, the administration has defied calls from congressional leaders to account for the U.S. involvement in Libya. Most emblematic of this position were the words of Hillary Clinton on Thursday that "the White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission."One of the clearest statements against the administration's position has come from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who delivered an insightful address to Congress on Thursday discussing what the intervention means for the United States, highlighting that "[t]he critical issue before this nation today is not Libyan democracy, it is American democracy." Kucinich’s main point is that Odyssey Dawn cannot be separated from the larger history of American-Libyan relations since the time Ghaddafi came to power to the present day.Libya is not some kind of exceptional humanitarian intervention; the U.S. has been supporting Ghaddafi's regime since his 2003 declaration that he was no longer pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Probably the strangest example of this was pointed out this week by Senator Bernie Sanders, who noted, in a recent letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, that the Central Bank of Libya had received bailout money through its 59% ownership in the Arab Banking Corp, which has received 46 emergency low-interest loans from the Fed.As Kucinich suggests, success in Libya could lead to even more covert and overt operations involving American forces in the future, with less discussion about the legal or moral implications of those operations. It is a mistake for Democrats, liberals, progressives, leftists—or whatever you want to be called—to support these kinds of policies out of a misguided idea that Obama is intervening in the ‘right way.’ Some might dismiss this as hyperbole, but it couldn't be closer to the truth: Obama’s actions continue a long tradition of American foreign policy and consolidation of executive power which blatantly disregard the democratic process.

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