Journalism in the Public Interest

In the Allied War in Libya, Exactly How Involved Is the United States?


Wrecked tanks and military vehicles belonging to Muammar Qaddafi's forces are pictured along the road on March 21, 2011, after Western-led air strikes destroyed much of the Libyan forces' armor. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

Western military intervention in Libya—which began with air strikes over the weekend—has been described so far as an alliance led by the United States. It's a label the Obama administration appears anxious to hand off, as it faces criticism at home for launching the attack without congressional authorization and seeks to disprove fears that the intervention will become a protracted war without a clear exit plan.

Given the controversy and questions over U.S. involvement—and who's leading what—it’s worth taking a step back to look at exactly how the United States has been involved so far. 

What’s happened so far: Coalition strikes have targeted Qaddafi’s troops, air defense, communications and command sites, according to this helpful rundown from Reuters of each round of military action so far and what each coalition country has done.

Who’s leading right now: It’s not clear at the moment, but the New York Times notes that the United States, France and Britain have all been in charge of their own operations up to this point, which the United States—or, to be more specific, the United States Africa Command, or Africom—has been coordinating.

It’s worth noting that the early coordination got off to a rough start, with France pulling the trigger first on Libya, drawing the ire of U.S. and U.K. officials, according to the Financial Times. (French officials maintained that “all air strikes were co-ordinated with our partners.”)

What the United States has said about its involvement: The United States—seeking to allay domestic criticism about its entree into another war—has also stated repeatedly said it will take a step back and transfer leadership over to the broader coalition in a matter of days. Administration officials have said that the U.S. contribution to the mission is targeted and “limited in scope and duration.”

“We will continue to support the efforts to protect the Libyan people, but we will not be leading them,” President Obama said yesterday, after the crash of a U.S. F-15 fighter jet in Libya. Crew members ejected safely. Obama said the transition would occur in “days, not weeks.”

“We came in up front fairly heavily, fairly substantially, at considerable risk to our military personnel,” he said. “When this transition takes place, it is not going to be our planes that are maintaining the no fly zone. It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily enforcing the arms embargo. That’s precisely what the other coalition partners are going to do.”

Why there’s been a hold-up on the transfer of leadership: The squabble has been about who will lead that coalition. Britain, Italy and the United States favored using NATO to coordinate. France did not. The Times reports that Turkey, which has kept diplomatic channels open with Libya, has also been reluctant—it is the only Muslim member of NATO and opposed military action against Libya.

The United States, however, has been working to get Turkey on board, with President Obama calling Turkey’s prime minister yesterday. According to the summary of the call, the two “agreed that this will require a broad-based international effort, including Arab states, to implement and enforce the UN resolutions, based on national contributions and enabled by NATO’s unique multinational command and control capabilities.”

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that members of the alliance were nearing an agreement as to a new command structure using NATO’s planning capabilities but including other non-NATO countries via a steering committee. (Foreign Policy laid out a few other options as well.) The Post reported late Tuesday that the tentative agreement has been reached.

Why regional support is a concern: While nations in the Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council had been calling for the United Nations to consider a no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya, keeping some of these nations on board—key to the mission’s legitimacy—has been a diplomatic task unto itself.

Regional support seemed to waver recently when the Arab League’s secretary general criticized the action against Libya as exceeding the UN mandate.

The United States made a number of frantic calls, the Guardian reported, and yesterday the Arab League clarified its support: “We are committed to UN security council resolution 1973. We have no objection to this decision, particularly as it does not call for an invasion of Libyan territory.”

“There was a broad set of, really, requests and demands from the region for action,” National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told reporters on Monday. “The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League came forward and asked for the United Nations Security Council to step up and address this issue.”

The Journal reports that while the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group of six Persian Gulf states, has stayed steadfast in its support, it hasn’t offered much in the way of military aid:

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group of six Arab Persian Gulf states, has voiced unwavering political support for the strikes. The bloc was the first among Arab states to urge the U.N. to consider a no-fly zone at a meeting early in the month. But apart from Qatar, which is sending jets, GCC members have stopped short of sending military aid.

The Atlantic has a few lists on where each Middle East country stands on the Libya action and what the various countries have contributed or pledged to contribute. (Note that the Atlantic, citing AFP, said that the United Arab Emirates is sending aircraft—but that's now changed because the UAE is unhappy about the U.S. and European stance on Bahrain.)

What’s been promised by the coalition: The coalition has stated that in accordance with the United Nations resolution, no ground troops will be sent in. Both the United States and U.K. have said that they are not going after Qaddafi.

“The current focus is on the protection of civilians in Libya,” said Donilon. “That’s what the military tools are being used right now to do.”

Four days of airstrikes, however, have so far seemed ineffective in preventing Qaddafi's attacks, according to the Post. Libyan forces continued attacking civilians in the city of Misurata yesterday, though the Associated Press reports that the strikes eventually forced Qaddafi's tanks to retreat.

As we’ve noted, it had earlier been reported there had been a “growing consensus” within the White House that a no-fly zone over Libya would no longer make a difference. That was before the United States voted in favor of military intervention.

Pentagon officials over the weekend said that the early strikes had put the no-fly zone “effectively in place,” though Qaddafi “clearly still has the capability to attack his own people.”

This no fly zone decision by Obama illustrates his personal arrogance, once again, and the clear tendency for the executive branch to overstep its constitutional authority.  At the very least, Obama should have consulted with congressional leaders during the decision making process, not after.  I am sick and tired of the elected officials in this country—governors, presidents, etc acting as though we are merely subjects of a monarchy!  Until we, as a people, come up with another alternative to the corrupt and self supporting two-party tango, we are doomed to more arrogance and injustice.  Buckle up!

First of all, I’m no fan of Obama, because I knew that he wasn’t speak on behalf of “us”. We ain’t asking him to go Ghetto, just say something
on behalf of Black People!, not amerikkkan people, because we are not
amerikkkan. The question I ask all the time, is how can the U.S. get involved in Libya’s internal conflicts as human rights violations, and the U.S. done the exact same things, pre-Civil Rights of 1964!

@Will- “overstepping” his Constitutional authority? Do you realize that Congress has not declared war since WWII? This includes the Korean and Vietnam incursions. Moreover, the French actions were precipitated by Gadhafi’s aggressive military approach to Benghazi last week. Unless they had responded at that precise moment, there would not have been a reason for any NATO military force. Pro-Gadhafi troops would have claimed the city and co-mingled with citizens there making airstrikes impractical.
Real arrogance and actions that bordered on treason were carried out by the previous administration. Waterboarding is torture by anyone’s description. We prosecuted German POWs after WWII for it.

I totally agree with comments submitted by Will Harper on the Lybian War.  When President Obama was in South America, The Dept. of Defense was running the country.  Secretary Clinton and Gates were overseas trying to sell our involvement in Lybia. Where was V.P. Biden?  Hiding in the White House basement?  Congress was left in the dark.  Only military generals and admirals were interviewed on the major networks over the weekend.  There was no one else leading the country!  The Tomahawk missles cost $1 million per missle.  The Navy fired 110 the first day.  Then there was more bombing after that which was never explained.  There was lots of overkill and lots of money blown on only 20 strategic targets.  The Dept. of Defense has taken over the executive branch of our government!  Now that we are involved in a third war, we have more political spin, more lies, and more cover-ups to look forward to.

Don`t anyone take me wrong. First I am a citizen of The Republic of Texas; we do have relations with the United States.
I remember well Dec. 7th 1941, That was a war that was fought not for oil or greed. Every recuiting office across the Untied States each day was filled with volunteers. The United States didn`t start that war, if you all will remember we was the country that finished it.
That war was fought for world peace.
Since that time there hasn`t been another war fought for peace but, for greed, yes greed
Now the top elected offical in washington is showing us just what type of dictator he has turned out to be.
It is the voters fault that we have the repersentation on the Potomac that we have,
If the next natural diaster hits the US we will go bellyup an will fall completely to the bottom of the economic list in the world.

Days, not weeks . . . now haven’t we heard that before!?  Closing of Gitmo.

Did our oil and energy companies along with BP had a big dream again?  Obama, Clinton, and the company were quick to elicit the support of allies to bomb another Moslem nation to get rid off the very man that they have been supporting for decades!! It is a sad commentary about our political expediencies, military intervention in the name of protecting innocent people and above all supporting UN and its 1973 Resolution?!! Did we apply the same priciples after the Sixth Days War in 1967 between the Israelis and the Arabs? Didn’t UN issue a resolution regarding Israeli Army to move back to its previous position? Why we did not enforce that resolution?

This is how we make enemies, instead of friends. And do we learn anything from our repeated historic mistakes?


March 24, 2011, 10:49 p.m.


Can we all say it together—O I L !  It’s Libya’s OIL.  Oil being sucked out of Mother Earth by Italian Oil Companies designated for EUROPE.  Oil for our friends in Europe—give them OIL and they’ll shut-up and approve anything.

DO YOU WANT TO SEE CHANGE IN DC?  Raise hell with your state legislators, and keep raising hell until every state in the Republic is clamoring Congress to call an Article V Amendments Convention, so We The People can create skin-tight amendments that stop Obama from declaring WAR without Constitutional authority.

How about an amendment that removes any member of government the second they violate the letter of high law; e.g., the Constitution (no need to involve lawyers—just send them packing!).

TOP DOWN government just doesn’t work for me—I want to enjoy BOTTOM UP government.  We The People are sovereign, that is we get to tell our REPRESENTATIVES what we want, not the other way around.  Congress is the problem; they’ve been taken over by the two political parties, who have sold their soul to Corporate America.

Learn WHY an Article V Amendments Convention is the ONLY lawful means of getting the changes We The People desire—let’s bring America back to its former glory.  Visit article-v-convention[.]com and begin waking up to reality.

We lived under a parlamentary, representative democracy.
We elect people to run the affairs of government.
We impeach and recall people if they have done wrong.
If you don’t like what you are getting fron your elected officials,
there are established procedures to alter their stay in office.
If inaction when clear and inminent danger is about to be visited
on a people because of someone’s desire to stay in power, don’t
forget Hitler and his invasion of Europe.That too was not none
of our business for awhile anyway.
You can’t talk to a man with a shotgun in hand.

Oh am I so opposed to any involvement of the U.S. in Libya. We must stop. Let the Brits, French, Italy and others of NATO have at it. We must force other Muslim nations to step up and do their part. It is not enough for them to say we support the UN resolution you folks bomb but don’t step foot on Libya’s soil. It is pass time that Arab’s take care of their own problems, time for the West to heal especially the U.S.. Oh well when the elite in Washington think their power is being usurped they tend to drag us all in to prove they are almighty. We the people need to make them stop, pull out of Iraq and the sink hole of Afghanistan and take a moment to put America back together. I for one am tired of the Islamic world. Let them sink or swim on their own. It is called tough love. They are very broken and need to heal themselves.


March 25, 2011, 8:09 p.m.


It’s time to learn about an Article V Amendments Convention so We The People regain control of the country we own.  The government doesn’t own us, but they act as though they do.  We’re right on the edge of having our Republic turn into an Oligarchy (...a small group of people having control of a country.).

Google Article-V-Convention[.]com and gain the knowledge to FIGHT BACK.  Read: Whose Country Is It Anyway.  Click the LINKS and SIGN THE PETITION.  Save the REPUBLIC, please.

From across the sea, and in answer to your question, it seems very clear that this the USA’s war of regime change. Neither of the Anglo-Franco conspirators, including ‘shifty Nick’ would have been allowed to act in warlike manner without the permission of the US regional command, even while the USA had not moved its fleet into the Libyan coastal blockade, and also ‘Tizer Kid Haigue’ and ‘the Toff Cameron’ would not have been allowed permission for their esponage mission without CIA clearance for support. And, finally we all know here that NATO is an arm of and controlled by the USA - so YES, OBAMA’S EMPIRE RULES.

I firmly believe that this is a war in every since of the word and is in violation of the war power act that congress is turning a blind eye to. The lenght and bredath of these attcks is that of a war. This is a war that I call a cheaters war in which NATO is out of control and is in violation of the UN resolution which the UN does not have the back bone to confront NATO on. Some of the targets that are hit like libraries are being hit to display hatred of the gaddfi family more than of valid necessity.

It would appear that at the least, for the last three months the USA and its NATO (they pay their own war costs) mercenary(s) are jointly spending some $600m per month in depleted toxic munitions, alone!
As for the USA republic at the mercy of exceptional climatic reverses and catastrophic loss of life and property, and like the financially limited nations of Europe also beset with contaminated agricultural foodstuffs by chemical infections leading to poisoning and deaths, this is a war for regime change (sovereign nation destruction) as outlined by President H O-BOMB-A in London, most recently, a war not authorised by the USA Congress and therefore all US and NATO parties are acting illegally?

Post scriptium KIM PALMER; Not only does the UNO lack any gumption with regards to the USA, just watch how President Hassan O-BOMB-A favourite doberman (attack dog Susan Rice) rules Security Council in every debate!!

Not only does MISS rice rule the security council she does so with black intimidation and air force intimidation

One of the basis of what I call these war was the notion that Britain, Canada,France,United States planned to carry out heavy handed democracy in other countries in the belief that it would pump up their own democracy. I say to you what democracy there is no legal structure,law enforcement,social structure, and political structure that could ever withstand a crisis. The second agenda was to release market forces that they saw islamic law as restraining and create access to what they believed was unlimited wealth. From the first insurrgency that occured in egypt looking at it as a sogiologist looks at it it appeared that market forces had gone wild.

This war is much like the christian crusades many years ago when the muslim military alliances were a big perceived threat and they put together all of their christain alliances to wipe them out. This evilness pops up in downsizing years the chritian agenda was carried out by ronald reagan and this time it was carried out by bob gates. He left the pentegon with a christian bang in libyia but his time would have been better spent increasing real democracy in his own country

I have heard no one including the international crime court make the distinstion between insurrergency and armed insurrgency this is a world of differnce in how this are reponded to. Many of the insurrgencies are paid insurrgents that have went from country to country and carried out insurrgencies. I believe every citizen of this country sould read the book The Coming Insurrection by the Invisible Committee it will open your eyes. These oppossional groups are more than what they appear to be or should I say not as a natural occurance as people would llike to believe that they are

It is my belief that they will take this illegal war one step further and launch and illegal land campaign. From the word go they wanted to be like oliver north and arm this rebels whether people disagreed with it or not.  Mr gaddfi has far worse done to him than any terrorist had inflicted on hom and this is truly a man who battled terrorist groups and rescued hostages held by them. They were nicer to osma bin laden than they were to this man

I firmly believe that the illegal conduct in libyia by britain,canada,france, and the USA will set a precedent for how far they can go in carrying out targeting warfare against countries they see as their enemies

In Vietnam the use of helicopters was considered ground war, I maintain that Britain,Canada,France,and United States are looking to carry out an easy ground invasion war to clean up their war record in Afghanistan and Iraq that is filled with abuses

NATO latest bombing of 30 bombing is clerly uncalled for and does nothing but dispaly hatred at this man. One can tell by looking at hussan/obamas face,britain,Canada,and frances face that these officals are ready to loose control, Wake up America what kind of rage do you think Mr Panetta will carry out while he is at the pentegon? Have you heard how out of control the USA military planes are in this country do you really want to wake up and find your self in World WAr III and have not spoken up to ahve brought them under control.

This president is as far out in left field as JFK was when he was with out his adrenaline shots. While this president has shown us waht he claims to be his birth certificate has anyone really dhecked where his parents where when he was born. How horrific it will be to have an ubconstitutional president making these decisions

I find that NATO sudden upsurge in bombing libyia is highly correlated to Mr Gates retirement as he needs to kill odd the gaddfi familt to retire a hero. He has never brought his own military under control or felt he should take responsibility for their abuse in Afghanistan or Iraq but he feels he ought to retire a hero.

In no other conflict have we hijacked an international countries assets without going through international legal processes. This money did not originate in the United States and does not fall under its jurisdiction. There is no guarentee that this money won’t be used to find other rebel and gorillia groups, This small of an organization does not need 1 billion dollars

The mere fact that the State of Libya has not collapsed after 90 more days of attacks by the massed sea and air forces of an alliance lead by the US organisation NATO, certainly prooves that the majority of the Libyian people do not support this alliance or its aid and murderous command of the LIBYAN REBELS. More-over, it would be enlightening if the USA media explained how a court-appointed trustee can act against their trust relationship in the case of the Libyan peoples savings, whos sovereign funds are now subject to banking peculation, by high fees and miss-investments and now by criminal disbursements. More-over, it is to be hoped that the other court in the Hague will recify this gross appropiation by judgement shortly in the owners favour?
As this is just another of the post-legal acts of the USA in the international arena, as well as the post-HITLERIAN regime, it currently imposes upon its own peoples (with the noted exception of the greedy rich and their political and civic servants) and the fact; that Mr H B O-BOMB-A and his Democratic party can still raise the millions needed to manipulate the presidential electorate, and the source of these moneys explains who’s President it really is!!

I find that this conflict has been intentionally extended as there is no money or economic growth in peace. It is not in the best economic interest of Britain, Canada,France,USA, and bankrupt NATO to end this conflict. On going conflict means on going funds are being poured into these countries. In countries like these where economies are collapsing and stimulus programs have failed the war machine becomes the economy.

The Democratic Party is able to raise fund from the zionist party who has a stake in wanting the removal of certain countries and or their leadership removed.Libyia,Syria,Palestine,and Iran are but a few of the leaders that they want removed as they believe that muslim countries need to be brought under christian control. The pro-American zionist receive billions of dollars from the USA government year for the support of its pro-American positiion. In the Zionist context only a few countries decide what leaders get removed and are subject to military action. This is an undemocratic process that the democrats are supporting

I personally would like to have the list of USA government official released that had libyias money deposited into them

Wayne A. Biszick

June 17, 2011, 3:49 p.m.

I personally believe that our government knows that our citizens are more and more against our being involved in Afghanistan and Iraq, and will make us get out of there to save the money to reduce our deficit. Well, we must have a war somewhere or we will have no place to play war with all of our new weapons.
Historically, when a country has no enemy to fight with, they turn these weapons on their own people.
My suggestion is that we move war activities to another planet, like the moon, for example. This keeps the Military Industrial Complex in business without people actually getting killed, provides a place to develop new weapons, and realize a substantial revenue from the nightly broadcasting of the “war news”
It looks like win win to me, and gives us a solid rationale for keeping the space shuttle program alive and kicking.

Is Syria another libyia? Miss rice apparently thinks so as she and her boss hussein have resorted to there usual violent tactics to control the security council debate. Syria is another libyia for the insurrgents who believe that this country has billions of assets laying around. The insurregents believe that all muslim countries have oodles of money,which no country has oodles of money during a recession.

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