U.S. Congress Can Vote For Peace In Libya

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[Black Star News Editorial]

The United States House of Representatives vote on two measures today--one of them sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, ordering an end to the U.S. role in the war of aggression in Libya now being conducted primarily by NATO.

We are very strong supporters of President Barack Obama but we hope Kunich's measure passes.

We endorsed Barack Obama early when the establishment and other media rooted for then Senator Hillary Clinton. We have defended the president through thick and thin and pushed back against racist attacks by the Tea Party and some of their Republican allies.

We vigorously endorsed and promoted healthcare reform legislation on these pages; we backed the bail out of banks, not because we love bankers but we knew  a bank collapse and run on accounts would have doomed the U.S. and global economy; we welcomed the multi-billion dollar "stimulus" to rescue the economy although we argued the amount was too small and that $3 trillion was needed for full recovery; we lauded the rescue package for the Detroit auto industry, which has now paid off handsomely; we supported education reform; and we backed financial reform; and we are big advocates of immigration reform.

Yet the president is completely wrong on Libya. The Western coalition is not bombing Libya to "save" civilians. In the region civilians who need immediate rescue are in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. The fact that the U.S., France and Britain stand and watch as civilians are mowed down in these countries exposes the deception and duplicity about Libya.

We warned in several editorials that pursuing Nicolas Sarkozy's fixation on punishing al-Quathafi in Libya would divert U.S. focus away from Yemen and Syria where the uprisings would turn violent and make Libya's conflict pale in comparion; we are sorry to say we were correct.

Libya is in the midst of a civil war pitting long-time ruler Muammar al-Quathafi against rebels from Benghazi, which is a region that has been traditionally hostile to the al-Quathafi government since he seized power 42 years ago and deposed then King Idris, who had favored Benghazi. Idris was pliant to U.S. interests; there is an element of delayed counter-revolution in the uprising.

The rebel leaders also include former U.S. al-Qaeda detainees in Guantanamo Bay, and former al-Quathafi ministers and generals. One rebel leader, and former al-Quathafi justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel-Jalil, told The Financial Times on March 14 that oil concessions would be awarded based on the amount of help Western countries provide to depose al-Quthafi. Soon thereafter, Italy, former colonial overlord in Libya --and killers of  Omar Al-Moktar, Libya's liberation hero-- had joined Benghazi against Tripoli. Italy would prefer to lead al-Quathafi in chains to the gallows as it did with Al-Moktar.

Even though he introduced remarkable reforms in Libya with the country's oil billions --increasing literacy and education, increasing the rights of women, building great infrastructure, housing and hospitals and schools-- Muammar al-Quathafi has been in office too long. The African Union (AU) has presented a peace plan that addresses both the issue of war and leadership.

It would end the war with a comprehensive ceasefire --monitored by the international community, including the U.N. -- and pave the way for a democratic constitution and elections open to all Libyans to choose new leaders.

The plan was delivered by South African president Jacob Zuma to Libya on two occasions, including this past Monday. The plan offers the solution that the war of aggression -- promoted by the increasingly unstable French President Nicolas Sarkozy and echoed by Britain's David Cameron-- does not.

Often Africa is criticized for not offering any solutions to the continent's woes. The AU plan is a viable one and the We
st, including the U.S. must not pour cold water on it.

President Obama should endorse the AU plan which has already been accepted by the al-Quathafi government. He should invite President Zuma for a meeting in Washington to bolster the plan.

The U.S. Congress would help the peace process by ending American military participation in the war as an option. A vote by Congress to cut off U.S. involvement is a vote for peace and democracy in Libya.

"Speaking Peace To Empower."

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