Herb Boyd | 5/25/2011, 12:54 p.m.
Despite five days of pounding from Tomahawk cruise missiles, bombs and attacks by coalition airplanes seeking to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, Col. Muammar Gaddafi's military ground capacity has suffered only minor setbacks. Troops loyal to Gaddafi, particularly along the western coastline, continue to fire on rebels who maintain an eastern stronghold in Benghazi.
Speaking to the press in El Salvador on Tuesday during a five-day, three-nation tour of Latin America, President Barack Obama addressed one of the key issues for Americans concerned about the possible opening of another prolonged arena of combat.
"When this transition takes place," he began, referring to the shared role of the coalition forces in the campaign, "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 nations are going to do."
British Prime Minister David Cameron, upon announcing on Monday that the airstrikes had effectively neutralized Gaddafi's ability to use his warplanes against the rebels, said that the control of the operation will transition from U.S. control to a NATO-led mission to implement UN Security Council resolution 1973. It was this resolution, according to Obama, that the Senate approved which authorized the implementation of the no-fly zone over Libya.
Even so, a number of elected officials--Republicans and Democrats, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who has demanded that Obama be impeached, and Congressman Charles Rangel--are incensed that the president made this decision without conferring with Congress.
"What needs to be done at this point is a call by the president or the vice president for a special session of Congress to inform us and to ask our position on this matter," Rangel said during a press briefing Monday afternoon at the State Office Building. "Obama is going along with past presidents...[and] at the end of the day we pay the price physically and financially."
Protests by anti-war groups have also sprung up across the nation, and here in New York in Times Square hundreds chanted, "No more war, we've seen this show before!" Larry Holmes, one of the demonstrators and a longtime activist affiliated with the International Action Center said, "They say this attack is for humanitarian reasons, but they are not dropping bread, but bombs. It is clear to me that we have not learned a lesson from the invasion of Iraq. It's dej vu."
Holmes said he didn't know a lot about the opposition forces, "but I do know about American imperialism and this is another war for oil and we can't wait for change from our elected officials concerning the violation of the War Powers Act. We have to mobilize now."
Rangel, Kucinich and Holmes are not alone in their outrage against U.S. involvement in a coalition that does not include the African Union, and include only one Arab nation, Qatar, which has sent only one jet to the assault. Even the Arab League, which initially approved the no-fly zone initiative, is now a bit hesitant given the extent of the barrages and alleged collateral damage.