Thursday, June 16, 2011
Operation Unified Protector: Smells Like Roses & Quacks Like a Duck
The NATO led effort to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack of by its own leader, Moammar Gaddafi, began late in March.
Managing the effort from bases located in Italy and Turkey, the allied forces first enacted a no fly zone over Libya, allowing only approved military crafts or humanitarian aid into or out of the country. They also began an arms embargo, enforced both by air and by sea.
As of May 31, NATO aircrafts have flown over 9,000 missions over Libya, of which 3,400 were tactical bombings. On June 1, 2011, NATO passed a 90-day extension of Operation Unified Protector to begin on June 27; exactly 90 days after NATO’s initial involvement in the conflict.
The BBC is reporting that the UK and its Royal Navy can stay involved in the effort as long as needed, even up to and beyond the six-month number that is being debated while the Obama administration’s decision to enter the conflict without the proper support or approval of the United States Congress has caused turmoil in America.
Many in the US are calling for legal action against the president claiming that he violated The War Powers Act of 1973. The act was meant to stop presidents from sustaining wars without congressional approval but some see it as just a really big stick that congress can shake at the President.
In a report to Congress the White House argued that America’s participation in the NATO-led effort did not require congressional authorization, insisting that the US forces are only there in a supporting role and with any foreign occupation forbidden in Libya, troops remain off the ground.
But even with America strictly lending air support, it’s reported that the United States has spent over $715 million in military operations and humanitarian aid. Staying on through September will up the price tag to over $1 billion.
While the GOP stands firmly against the President’s decisions, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other party loyalist support the president’s actions. But, with mounting debt at home and no room left to the ceiling, the Republican led Congress has threatened to tighten the purse strings.
The War Powers Act gives the president 60 days to get the proper authorization needed to continue an effort or 30 days to withdrawal and the clock is running out. This key piece of legislature was only entered into America’s legal books when the reality of what had happened in Vietnam became evident to the American public.
Without a proper declaration of war, either then or now, America seems to be walking a familiar path into a grey area we now know to cost more in lives, national support and international reputation than it ever did monetarily.