The pitfalls of the U.S. mission in Libya

BY GUEST OPINION | JUNE 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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The U.S. government has lied to the American people in saying that the effort in Libya is purely humanitarian. In actuality, the conflict is only justified with the language of humanitarianism; underlying the war is an effort to gain control of resources such as oil. The humanitarian mission, launched three months ago, has now turned into a catastrophic, tyrannical conflict that resembles U.S. and NATO’s past conflicts in Eastern Europe and Iraq.

Analytically, one must wonder why the United States and NATO chose to intervene in Libya and not in Darfur, where a U.S.-acknowledged genocide has taken place since 2003, or in Sri Lanka, where evidence has surfaced that the Sri Lankan government systematically murdered its citizens.

Moreover, what is consciously known by NATO and stated by Republican presidential-nomination candidates at recent debates, the United States and NATO are familiar at best with the Libyan “rebels” but do not fully understand their identity. In the beginning stages of the Libyan conflict, it was reported by the Huffington Post that “no country sent more young fighters into Iraq to kill Americans than Libya — and almost all of them came from eastern Libya, the center of the anti-Qaddafi rebellion that the United States and others now have vowed to protect.”

Why are so few Congressional representatives and elected officials are standing up for the American people? Former Congresswoman and perennial U.S. presidential hopeful Cynthia McKinney is one of few to do so. She spent 10 days in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, to conduct a fact-finding mission.

McKinney alleges that NATO is bombing civilian targets such as universities and compounds; even more frightening, she claims, is that NATO is using depleted-uranium weapons in major cities. Breathing in depleted uranium can lead to terminal illness and birth defects.

As of June 15, the Libyan government has offered to hold elections and stated that if the Libyan leader Qaddafi loses, he would leave office — effectively stopping his rule. The United States and NATO are not interested in elections and wish to continue the bombardment of Libya. But why? If this was in fact a humanitarian mission, an election in which the end to the conflict can be obtained peacefully should be the preferred choice.

In the end, if Qaddafi is bluffing, a militaristic mission can always continue, but a chance to avoid innocent casualties, save millions of taxpayer dollars, and help America’s image abroad is a one-time chance. The reality is that the U.S. totalitarian policies hurt our own economy and therefore hurt the American people. Every imperial power in the history of mankind has toppled. I suggest that the American government try a new strategy to maintain its superpower status — and, more importantly, protect the American people.

Darjan Vujica is a UI student and cofounder of the Children. Education. Empowerment. Development. nonprofit organization.

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