The myth of U.S. humanitarian intervention in Libya

by Aug 3, 2011Middle East

THE MYTH of humanitarian intervention has once again surfaced as the key justification for Western imperial adventurism. This time, Libya has been targeted by the United States and France for a bombing campaign that is alleged to be primarily about ìprotectingî the people of Libya, who joined others in the ìArab Springî in demanding freedom from a ruthless dictator.

As this so-called humanitarian intervention takes place, the United States continues its support for the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrations in states allied with the United States, such as Bahrain and Yemen. This clearly demonstrates the brazen level of hypocrisy of the U.S. position and illustrates just how concerned U.S. state managers are with human rights. Clear geopolitical motives for the intervention in Libya, as well as the suppression in Yemen and Bahrain, show the true purpose of the U.S. policy: to maximize its control of a vital, resource-rich region while hiding its true intentions, as always, behind the veil of benevolent intentions. This has been made possible, in part, because the media has worked to spread the party line of U.S. humanitarian intervention and benevolent intentions, serving as what the neo-Marxist writer Louis Althusser referred to as an ìIdeological State Apparatusî (ISA).1
This article seeks to dismantle the arguments made by apologists for U.S. imperialism in Libya by examining the true nature of U.S. foreign policy and its concern (or lack thereof) for human rights, the illegality of the Libyan invasion through the lens of both domestic and international law, and by demonstrating how corporate media complicity has helped to sell this narrative, serving, as always, as an arm of official ideology.

Humanitarian intervention as imperial ideology

The ideological nature of much of the debate over the intervention is painfully clear, even among critics. ìAt the end of the day,î writes Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass, who sits at the dovish extreme of the permitted spectrum, ìthe Libyan intervention is more than anything about the role of the United States in the world,î and ìthe United States cannot and should not intervene in every internal dispute where bad or even evil is on display.î2 On the surface, Haass is correct, of course; no one would suggest the United States intervene in every country in which it saw ìbad or even evil.î Yet his statement is actually a manifestation of state ideology: the United States either acts in the name of good (to stop ìbad or even evilî) or it does not act at all. The idea of the United States itself committing ìevilî is not a possible category, it is outside the bounds of ìthinkable thoughtî to borrow Noam Chomskyís phrase.3 Haassís evaluation reveals his uncritical acceptance of this principle, and thus his fitness to serve at the head of a respectable and important ideological institution. Yet the full support the United States has lent to the violent crackdown on protests in Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabiaónot to mention Israelís crimes against the Palestiniansóreveals that U.S. policy lacks the moral quality Haass and others inherently ascribe to it.

This is not the first time that a U.S. president has justified intervention on the basis of supposed humanitarian imperatives. The most noted example in U.S. history is President Clintonís 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia. Though he claimed at the timeómuch like Obamaóthat such an intervention was necessary to prevent the massacre of civilians, ìuncontroversially, the vast crimes took place after the bombing began: they were not a cause butóit is hard to denyóa consequence.î4 In a book strongly endorsed by Clintonís deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott (who worked closely on the intervention), John Norris writes, ìIt was Yugoslaviaís resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reformónot the plight of Kosovar Albaniansóthat best explains NATOís war.î5 When one takes notice of simultaneous U.S. support for Indonesiaís genocidal occupation of East Timor,6 as well as its support for Turkeyís horrific ethnic cleansing of its Kurdish population,7 this conclusion becomes even harder to avoid.

Those who wish to understand the world around them must shrug off the yoke of ideology and examine matters for what they are. What is most striking about the demands of the recent revolutionary uprisings across the Middle East is that they are overwhelmingly secular, universal demands for freedom, human rights, and economic justice; not fanatical cries to impose a supreme leader, nor fundamentalist calls to holy warfare. Despite official rhetoric of humanitarian intervention and ìpromoting freedom,î the United States is struggling to repress the revolutionary awakening. Though the popular uprisings have largely been free of anti-imperialist slogans, the challenge they pose to U.S. client regimes through which imperial power is projected into the Middle East, the chief oil producing and most strategically important region of the world, is very real.

The independence that would result from the liberation from dictatorship and oppression demanded by the regionís people is the dialectical opposite of U.S. control: more power for the masses means less control for the United States. This explains the management of the region through a network of client dictatorships, overseen and stabilized by Israeli nuclear hegemony. It is a system enforced by an expansive disciplinary apparatus of interlocking state coercion, which relies on terror to maintain order; if it does not respond when tested, it loses all effectiveness. In recent months, we have seen masses of people across the Middle East challenging that coercive mechanism, which is none other than empire itselfóand it has responded. It should go without saying that such a system of raw power and domination does not take account of ìhumanitarian concerns.î

In reality, this imperial system was constructed to ensure continued U.S. control of the Middle Eastís energy resources, particularly the vast Saudi reserves, deemed ìthe greatest material prize in historyî by the U.S. State Department.8 In pursuing this objective, the United States strengthens the regimes it controlsóSaudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, and so onówhile threatening and attacking those that oppose its objectivesóIran, Syria, and Libya. Human beings only matter insofar as they get in the way. This poses a simple rejoinder to Mr. Haass: the easiest way for the United States to put an end to ìbad or even evilî in the world (in Haassís sense of ìinfringements on human rightsî) is to stop carrying it out.

Expanding empire, repressing opposition

As the brutal repression of recent uprisings makes clear, the main purpose of growing U.S. military assistance programs to Yemen and Bahrain (Obama increased military assistance to Yemen from $67 million in 2009 to $150 million in 2010) is to repress ìtheir people,î and maintain the U.S.-prescribed regional order.9 The violent crackdown against protesters in Bahrain has included tactics such as a 3:00 a.m. attack by hundreds of riot police on unarmed sleeping protesters, ìincluding families and children,î supported by tear gas and live ammunition fired from U.S.-manufactured Apache helicopters.10 Doctors trying to help the hundreds of wounded and dying were savagely beaten, one example of what Human Rights Watch has called ìa troubling pattern of security forces preventing medical staff from providing urgent care to wounded protesters and assaulting doctors and paramedics dispatched to provide treatment to the injured.î11 Though the U.S. government has issued muted public statements deploring the violence, full American support for the repression has continued.12

Bahrain is an important and close U.S. ally, housing the Fifth Fleet of the U.S. Navy, and is located adjacent to Saudi Arabiaís Eastern Province, which contains the majority of Saudi oil reserves.13 Ominously for Washington, there are some signs of rebellion spreading to the Saudi Kingdom, including protests in the Eastern Province.14 Such a threat is not likely to be taken lightly.

While the United States intervenes directly in Libya on behalf of armed rebels, it authorized Saudi Arabiaís deployment of its U.S.-supplied military to Bahrain to support the brutal crackdown on nonviolent demonstrations there, which arrived just days after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had visited the island.15 Far from being faced with sanctions and bombardment for its repressive role not just within its own borders, but elsewhere in the region, Saudi Arabia has received substantial American support for its longstanding imperial service, including the largest arms sale in U.S. historyó$60 billionóin October 2010.16

Massive protests in Yemen, another strategically located U.S. client, have likewise been suppressed with ferocious violence. U.S.-armed paramilitaries attacked students staging a sit-in at Sanaa University, and, backed by U.S.-made tanks, have gunned down unarmed demonstrators in the streets.17 One such attack recently killed fifty-two people and wounded hundreds, and was followed by the enactment of an emergency law that ìeffectively suspends the constitution.î18 The government crackdown reached such levels of brutality that several military leaders defected and joined the protesters, yet Obama has not announced his support for their cause nor called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, and ìU.S. special forces continue to operate across the country in support of the government.î19 Hollow, tepid condemnations of the wave of violence Saleh has released on the demonstrators by the White House Press Secretary20 have been carefully balanced by Robert Gatesís reminders that the United States has vital interests in Yemen,21 and have so far not been followed by action. Despite support for such crimes by allied regimes, the Washington establishment is still able to push the narrative that it is acting primarily, and selflessly, in the interest of human rights in Libya.

U.S. backing of Israelís barbaric, monthlong slaughter of half-starved, defenseless Palestinians in Gaza in 2009, including widespread use of U.S.-manufactured white phosphorous against civilians likewise reveals the true role played by ìhumanitarian concernsî in U.S. foreign policy.22 Rather than sanction Israel or intervene militarily to safeguard the rights of Palestinians, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution at the height of the massacre expressing its support for the attack, while the Bush administration blocked international efforts to reach a cease-fire. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly to discredit those documenting the crimes,23 and remains the chief supporter of Israeli strangulation of Gaza, causing a severe humanitarian crisis, including a ìcomplete economic collapseî and ìa substantial drop in the availability of necessitiesî such as food, clean water, and medicine.24

Through intervention in Libya, the United States reifies the illusion that it is siding with the popular rebellions throughout the region, even as it is the most powerful force working to crush them. While it arms the despots the masses seek to overthrow, it focuses attention on its supposedly noble humanitarian defense of Libyans from the brutal dictatorship of Muammar Qaddafi.25 No doubt the decision to intervene was helped by the Benghazi shadow governmentís indication that if in power, it would adopt positions favorable to Western interests, which has already won it French recognition.26 Further, many of the Benghazi opposition leaders are former prominent Qaddafi regime officials27 (in addition to a possible CIA operative),28 who it is difficult to believe have suddenly become pro-democracy activists. Apart from public statements, there is little reason to think that empowering the Benghazi regime will lead to any substantial change in Libya whatsoeveróaside from the countryís geopolitical alignment, as it would then be under U.S. control. What is clear is that the U.S. establishment knows little about the opposition (it has even been suggested that it includes members of ìal-Qaedaî),29 and probably does not care; it simply wants to empower those who support its interests and enhance its geopolitical dominance.

With the region in a state of unprecedented revolutionary upheaval, including ongoing uprisings in Tunisia and Egyptóboth of which border Libyaóintervention against Qaddafi was designed to capitalize on the circumstances and enhance U.S. dominance. As ongoing military catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan strengthen the perception of the United States as an overstretched empire in decline, by attacking Libya the United States also seeks to reestablish the ìcredibilityî of its ìmilitary deterrentîóin other words, ensure that the world is still too terrified of the response to risk challenging U.S. dictates. Obamaís bellicose rhetoric is intended to send a clear message and reinforce the cardinal principle of U.S. foreign policy: as George H. W. Bush put it in 1991, ìWhat we say goes.î30 Retribution is swift and total for those who refuse to comply.

There is also a dangerous message that will greatly weaken future international nonproliferation efforts: had Libya kept its nuclear and chemical arsenal instead of ìvoluntarilyî renouncing all WMDs in 2003, the regime would have been able to deter the attack, as would have Iraq in the case of the 2003 U.S. invasion.31 North Korea, on the other hand, appears safe from such intervention.

Protecting civilians: ìA non-negotiable ultimatumî

Whatever complex geopolitical motivations exist for yet another Western bombing campaign in the Middle East, what is perfectly clear is that by engaging in this undeclared war, President Barack Obama has violated domestic law and has engaged in a radical expansion of executive power.

While Obama did attempt to justify the war by using the 1973 War Powers Act, the action clearly goes beyond the scope of the law.32 The War Powers Act does indeed allow for the president to use military force for sixty days (with a possible thirty-day extension) in the case of a ìnational emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.î This was clearly not the case with the conflict in Libya, which posed no threat to the United States or its neighbors, and essentially constituted a civil war. While there is clearly no doubt that Qaddafi has lost the support of much of the population of Libya due to his many abuses, this in no way enables a U.S. president to start a war without approval from Congress.

ìIn taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obamaís administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidencyóan executive who increasingly acts independently of Congress at home and abroad,î wrote Bruce Ackerman in Foreign Policy magazine, a journal run by the Carnegie Institute. ìHe was elected in reaction to the unilateralist assertions of John Yoo and other apologists for George W. Bush-era illegalities. Yet he is now moving onto ground that even Bush did not occupyÖputting Bush-era talk into action in Libyaówithout congressional authorization.î33

That an elite publication would voice such a view is telling (although in the mainstream media, only Representative Dennis Kucinich has been allowed to articulate this argument, calling Obamaís action without congressional authorization an ìimpeachable offenseî)34 and illustrates how unambiguously illegal Obamaís war in Libya is. This did not stop Obama from laying out an incredibly flawed justification for the endeavor, perhaps most ludicrously declaring in a February 25 letter to House Speaker John Boehner that Libya constituted ìan unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.î35 With few exceptions, members of Congress seemed to uncritically accept that an imperial president had effectively usurped the war-making powers of the legislature. Even Speaker Boehner, one of Obamaís chief political opponents, would only encourage Obama to ìdo a better job of briefing members of Congress,î but made no mention of a vote of authorization.36

The intervention violates international law as well. The United Nations Security Council did authorize all necessary actions ìto 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.î But, as former head of the National Lawyers Guild Marjorie Cohn noted, the attack ìexceeds the boundsî of this authorization.î All necessary measures ìshould first have been peaceful measures to settle the conflict. But peaceful means were not exhausted before Obama began bombing Libya,î Cohn wrote.37

Indeed, Chapter I of the UN Charter forbids the ìthreat or use of forceî in international relations.38 Though the resolution was passed under Chapter VII, which allows the Security Council to take action that ìmay be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,î provisions demanding a determination that all measures short of force are exhausted before resorting to intervention were clearly not satisfied.39 Moreover, even if we leave aside the language in the resolution calling for a peaceful settlement and assume the intervention is authorized by the Security Council, a UNSC resolution is not a blank check to violate these fundamental principles of the UN Charter: article 24 mandates that the Security Council ìshall act in accordance with the Principles and Purposes of the United Nations.î40

Neither the Security Council resolution nor the UN Charter could be interpreted to authorize regime change, yet Obama boldly announced, ìIt is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go.î41 Obama seemed to hedge a bit when he added that, ìwhen it comes to our military action, we are doing so in support of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 that specifically talks about humanitarian efforts, and we are going to make sure that we stick to that mandate.î42 This argument also forms the basis for the White House legal strategy to work around the need for congressional authorization by claiming, as White House Middle East advisor Dennis Ross did, that the attack constitutes a ìlimited humanitarian intervention, not war.î43

But clearly, the United States is looking to oust Qaddafi through one lawless method or another. ìWhen the mission was launched, it was largely seen as having a limited, humanitarian agenda: to keep Colonel Qaddafi from attacking his own people,î claimed a New York Times article from March 29. ìBut the White House, the Pentagon and their European allies have given it the most expansive possible interpretation, amounting to an all-out assault on Libyaís military.î The article notes that while the ìObama administration has been reluctant to call the operation an actual war,î American involvement ìis far deeper than discussed in public and more instrumental to the fight than was previously known.î44 There are also new reports of CIA agents on the ground in Libya, despite Obamaís proclamations that there would be no ground troops in the country, and the UN resolutionís express prohibition on such a presence.45

Likewise, reasonable alternatives to intervention that fall short of regime change have been ignored, revealing the true motivation for the attack. A political ìRoadmapî passed by the African Union on March 25 calling for an end to the bombing and immediate negotiations between the opposition and the government was agreed to by the Qaddafi regime, but has been ignored by Washington.46 And Congress, with limited exceptions, has expressed support for this policy. The always hawkish Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut also vigorously promoted illegal regime change, telling CNN that ìOnce the president of the United States says, as President [Barack] Obama did, that Qaddafi must go, if we donít work with our allies to make sure Qaddafi does go, Americaís credibility and prestige suffers all over the world.î47 Despite the fact that Al Jazeera and others reported before the bombing that the Libyan leader ìwas looking for an agreement allowing him to step down,î the bombing was initiated anyway, showing that the West was not even considering a peaceful resolution to the situation.48 The United States never even acknowledged such reports, and Obama defiantly declared that the dictator faced a ìnon-negotiable ultimatum.î49

Corporate media as ìIdeological State Apparatusî

The U.S. mainstream media has predictably served to advance the U.S. narrative, accepting the war as a just act of benevolence by the United States, which is selflessly working to save the lives of Libyan civilians. This is predictable: the media in a capitalist country largely serves as what Louis Althusser called an ìIdeological State Apparatus,î accepting and spreading the ideological doctrines of the state.

Perhaps The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, largely viewed to be the extreme left of the editorial shows on cable television, provided the most glaring example of the way state ideology pervades the media. Maddow observed that Obama, like Bush, was invading a Middle Eastern nation. But by initiating the attack without so much as a press conference to the American people, she argued, he was avoiding the ìchest-thumpingî of previous administrations in an effort to ìchange the narrativeî of U.S. foreign policy.

Obamaís decision, she said in a March 21 broadcast, ìto forego the chest-thumping commander-in-chief theater that goes with military intervention of any kind, that in itself is a fascinating and rather blunt demonstration of just how much this presidency is not like that of George W. Bush.î50

This pathetic display reveals precisely the way the media function as an ISA. As the mediaís best known ìliberalsî celebrate U.S. imperialism because it is hidden from the public, and carried out in a way that makes state violence more palatable, we see the extremely narrow parameters of debate. Liberal journals, such as the Nation, followed suit. The magazine published a piece by Professor Juan Cole, titled ìAn open letter to the left on Libya,î in which he argued that ìIf we just donít care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we arenít people of the Leftîóimplying that the only reason one could oppose the intervention is ìnot caringî about the Libyan people.51 It is simply assumed by ìseriousî mainstream outlets that the war is noble. Debate is encouraged within these narrow boundaries, which gives official propaganda a system-reinforcing character.52

Obamaís role in starting a third U.S. war in the Middle East also seems to indicate the extent of his commitment to militarism, and shows a major similarity with President George W. Bush. Yet, the media has scrambled to portray this as a different kind of war, a ìliberal war,î as Russ Douthat described it in a New York Times op-ed. ìIn its month-long crab walk toward a military confrontation with Libyaís Muammar al-Qaddafi, the Obama administration has delivered a clinic in the liberal way of war,î he wrote. The rebranding of imperialism and militarism under Obama has indeed proven to be effective.

Indeed, the Times op-ed page serves as an especially effective ideological tool for the state. In fourteen op-eds and two editorials written about Libya from March 14 to 28, only two could be described as offering anything resembling opposition to the war. One was a piece by Bob Herbert, who condemned ìpouring shiploads of cash into yet another warÖwhile simultaneously demolishing school budgets.î53 The other was by Thomas Friedman, who expressed his desire to support what he considers a noble mission in Libya, but admits, ìSadly, we cannot afford it.î54 Clearly, even these criticisms are within the ìbounds of the expressibleî laid out by the ideological systemóassuming that our motives in Libya are virtuous, but arguing that our commitment to justice must be tempered by other pressing needs.55 The more typical op-eds run by the paper of record were similar to that of Nicholas Kristof, whose ìHugs from Libyansî told stories of Libyan ìThank you ralliesî in honor of the U.S. war.56

Few corporate outlets dared mention the heights of U.S. hypocrisy or the excessive cost of the operationóestimated at $2 billion a day, according to Forbesójust as the government seeks to make cuts to vital programs like Medicare and Social Security.57 These costs may explain why, despite the near unanimity of the media in favor of the intervention, 63 percent of those polled by the Pew Research Center did not think the United States had a responsibility to act with violence in Libya.58

Business as usual for the American Empire

The Libyan war is yet another clear example of the imperial nature of U.S. foreign policy and the effectiveness of state ideology in blinding the public to the true nature of violence carried out abroad. Piercing the veneer of official propaganda, we discover that the United States is again engaged in a war of choice, using the military as a weapon, not as a last resort to defend itself, but rather to display and entrench Western power and shape the world in its interest during a time of massive change. The mediaómost shamelessly liberal apologists for Obamaóperpetuate this lie in near-monolithic fashion, while allowing for ìdebatesî merely over tactics, and ignoring geopolitics and the brute reality of U.S. Empire.

Michael Corcoran ( is a journalist and media critic from Boston who has written for the Boston Globe, the Nation, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, NACLA Report on the Americas, Extra!, and other publications. He is a masterís candidate at the John McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Stephen Maher ( is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., and a masterís candidate at American University School of International Service. His work, covering a wide range of issues, has appeared in the Guardian, on the Electronic Intifada, Truthout, Extra!, and elsewhere.

Article by Michael Corcoran and Stephen Maher

1 Louis Althusser, ìIdeology and Ideological State Apparatuses,î La PensÈe, 1970,
2 Richard Haass, ìToo much, too late,î Council on Foreign Relations, March 21, 2011,

3 Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1999), 33.

4 Noam Chomsky, A New Generation Draws the Line: Kosovo, East Timor, and the Standards of the West (New York: Verso Books, 2000), 96.

5 John Norris, Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo (New York: Praeger, 2005), xxiii.

6 Chomsky, A New Generation Draws the Line, 76ñ78.

7 Ibid., 11.

8 The United States Department of State Foreign Relations of the United States: diplomatic papers, 1945. The Near East and Africa: vol. VIII, 45, University of Wisconsin digital collection,

9 Nir Rosen, ìHow it started in Yemen: From Tahrir to Taghyir,î New Statesman, March 21, 2011.

10 ìBahrain: End deadly attacks on peaceful protesters,î Human Rights Watch, February 17, 2011; See also: Scheherezade Faramarz, ìBahrain crackdown routs protesters; clashes kill 5,î ?McClatchy Newspapers, March 16, 2011,

11 Faramarz , ìBahrain crackdown routs protestersî; ìBahrain: End deadly attacks on peaceful protestersî; and ìBahrain: Injured people denied medical care,î Human Rights Watch, March 17, 2011.

12 Office of the Press Secretary, ìStatement from the Press Secretary on violence in Yemen and Bahrain,î March 13, 2011,

13 Brad Knickerbocker, ìU.S. faces difficult situation in Bahrain, home to US Fifth Fleet,î Christian Science Monitor, February 19, 2011.

14 Ulf Laessing and Cynthia Johnston, ìSaudi police fire in air to disperse protest,î Reuters, March 10, 2011; See also Frank Langfitt and Renee Montagne, ìSaudi forces out in force to stop ëDay of Rage,íî Morning Edition, National Public Radio, March 11, 2011.

15 Though the Pentagon initially claimed it did not know of the Saudi moves in advance, reports later surfaced that the United States had in fact been informed. See ìSaudi told US of Bahrain intervention: US official,î Agence France-Presse, March 14, 2011.

16 Anthony Cordesman, ìThe New Saudi arms deal: Serving vital U.S. security interests,î Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 24, 2010.

17 Rosen, ìHow it started in Yemenî ; See also Ahmed Al-Haj, ìYemeni soldiers attack students,î Associated Press, March 8, 2011.

18 ìYemen: Emergency law does not trump basic rights,î Human Rights Watch, March 23, 2011.

19 Seumas Milne, ìThereís nothing moral about Natoís intervention in Libya,î Guardian, March 23, 2011.

20 Andrew Malcolm ìYemen president gets stern warning from Obama press secretary.î Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2011.

21 ìUS says post-Saleh Yemen would pose ëreal problem,íî Agence-France Presse, March 27, 2011.

22 Jonathan Weber, ìGoldstone report slams IDF warfare in Gaza,î YNet News, September 16, 2009.

23 Stephen Zunes, ìThe Gaza war, Congress, and International Humanitarian Law,î Middle East Policy Council,; Edith Lederer, ìU.S. blocks UN Security Council action on Gaza,î Associated Press, January 3, 2009; Jack Khouri, ìGoldstone tells Obama: Show me flaws in Gaza report,î Haíaretz, October 22, 2009.

24 ìThe Gaza StripóBackground,î BíTselemñThe Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories,

25 Eben Kaplan, ìHow Libya got off the list,î Council on Foreign Relations, October 16, 2007.

26 ìFrance recognizes Libya rebels, to surprise of EU,î Associated Press, March 10, 2011.

27 David Wood, ìGaddafiís army, Libyan rebels square off for showdown,î Huffington Post, March 29, 2011.

28 Chris Adams, ìLibyan rebel leader spent much of past 20 years in suburban Virginia,î McClatchy Newspapers, March 26, 2011.

29 Greg Miller, ìLibyan opposition includes a small number of al-Qaeda fighters, U.S. officials say,î Washington Post, March 29, 2011.

30 Mitchel Cohen, ìWhat we say, goes! How Bush Sr. sold the bombing of Iraq,î CounterPunch, December 28, 2002.

31 Paul A. DeSutter, ìLibya renounces weapons of mass destruction.î eJournal USA,

32 Lauren Rozen, ìAverting ëSrebrenica on steroidsí: White House defends Libya operations,î Yahoo! News, March 23, 2011.

33 Bruce Ackerman, ìObamaís unconstitutional war,î Foreign Policy, March 25, 2011.

34 Quoted in Jennifer Epstein, ìKucinich: Libya action ëimpeachable,íî The Politico, March 21, 2011.

35 Quoted in Josh Rogin, ìObama Declares National State of Emergency over Libya,î Foreign Policy, February 25, 2011.

36 Stephanie Condon, ìBoehner, GOP want Obama to consult with Congress on Libya,î CBS News, March 21, 2011.

37 Marjorie Cohn, ìStop bombing Libya,î Huffington Post, March 21, 2011.

38 Charter of the United Nations,

39 Ibid.

40 Ibid.

41 Aprille Muscara, ìObama leaves door open to regime change in Libya,î InterPress Service, March 21, 2011.

42 Ibid.

43 Rozen, ìAverting ëSrebrenica on steroids.íî

44 Eric Schmidt, ìU.S. gives its air power expansive role in Libya,î New York Times, March 28, 2011.

45 National Public Radio, ìCIA operatives gathering intelligence in Libya,î March 31, 2011,

46 Luc Van Kemenede, ìLibya says itís ready to implement a ëroad map,íî Yahoo! News, March 25, 2011.

47 As quoted in Josh Rogin, ìObama declares national state of emergency over Libya,î Foreign Policy, February 25, 2011.

48 ìLibyan rebels reject potential Gaddafi offer to step down: Reports,î Reuters, March 7, 2011.

49 Quoted in ìQ&A: The Libyan ceasefire, the UN resolution and military tactics,î Guardian, March 18, 2011.

50 For transcript, see The Rachel Maddow Show,, March 21, 2011,

51 Juan Cole, ìAn open letter to the left on Libya,î Nation, March 26, 2011.

52 Noam Chomsky, Necessary Illusions (Boston: South End Press, 1989), 48.

53 Bob Herbert, ìLosing our way,î New York Times, March 25, 2011.

54 Thomas Friedman, ìTribes with flags,î New York Times, March 22, 2011.

55 Chomsky, Necessary Illusions, 45ñ73.

56 Nicholas Kristof, ìHugs from Libyans,î New York Times, March 23, 2011.

57 Linda Thompson, ìThe real cost of U.S. in Libya? 2 billion dollars per day,î Forbes, March 28, 2011,

58 For poll results, see:

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