Mission Accomplished in Libya?

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Even as a major hurricane hit America’s eastern seaboard, the administration is determined to expand the war in Libya while threatening the regime in Syria. Is there any limit to government’s appetite to create more problems for our nation and economy?

Americans may be tempted to celebrate the apparent victory of US and NATO backed rebels in Libya, since it seems the Gaddafi regime is overthrown. But I believe any enthusiasm for our Libyan misadventure is premature.

The Obama administration attacked Libya without a constitutional declaration of war, without congressional authorization, without meaningful consultation with Congress – and without a dollar being authorized from the House or Senate. It was a war started by a president who turned to the United Nations for its authority and ignored the authority of the US Congress.

Are we better off as a nation by ignoring and debasing our Constitution? Are we better off having spent more than a billion dollars attacking a country thousands of miles away that had not threatened us? Are we more financially sound having expanded the empire to include yet another protectorate and probable long-term military occupation? Are we more admired throughout the world for getting involved in yet another war?

Still, many will claim that getting rid of Libyan ruler Gaddafi was worth it. They will say that the ends justify the means. As the civilian toll from NATO bombs adds up in a war started under the guise of protecting a civilian population, even the initial argument for intervention is ridiculous. We should not forget that there were no massacres taking place in Libya before the NATO attack. The attack was a dubbed a preventative humanitarian intervention. But as soon as NATO planes started bombing, civilians started dying.

Gaddafi may well have been a tyrant, but as such he was no worse than many others that we support and count as allies. Disturbingly, we see a pattern of relatively secular leaders in the Arab world being targeted for regime change with the resulting power vacuum being filled by much more radical elements. Iraq, post-Saddam, is certainly far closer to Iran than before the US invasion. Will Libya be any different?

We already see grisly reprisals from the US-backed rebels against their political opponents. There are disturbing scenes of looting and lawlessness on the part of the rebels. We know that some rebel factions appear to be allied with Islamic extremists and others seem to have ties to the CIA. They also appear to have a penchant for killing each other as well as supporters of the previous regime. The tribal structure of Libyan society all but ensures that an ongoing civil war is on the agenda rather than the Swiss-style democracy that some intervention advocates suggest is around the corner.

What is next after such a victory? With the big Western scramble to grab Libya’s oil reserves amid domestic political chaos and violence, does anyone doubt that NATO ground troops are not being prepared for yet another occupation?

Neo-conservatives continue to dominate our foreign policy, regardless of the administration in power. They do not care that we are bankrupt, as they are too blinded by their desire for empire and their affection for the entangling alliances we have been rightly counseled to avoid. They have set their sights next on Syria, where the US moves steadily toward intervention in another domestic conflict that has nothing to do with the US. Already the US president has called for "regime change" in Syria, while adding new sanctions against the Syrian regime. Are US bombers far behind?

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Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

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