France fired the first shots in the new war with Libya, but the Obama Administration was close behind, with US warships firing upwards of 120 Tomahawk missiles at targets inside Libya. The strikes came largely overnight, and exactly what they hit is largely unknown.
The reports however, suggest that at least some of the missiles hit civilian areas, and initial reports are that the attacks have killed at least 48 civilians and wounded 150 others.
Obama termed the attacks a “limited military action” officially, but the massive series of strikes suggests the administration is already going far beyond the “no-fly zone” mandate and is well on its way to demanding Iraq-style regime change.
Even Obama’s comments came with additional comments calling for Gadhafi to leave office, though he so far seems not to be explicitly linking to two. It seems incredible that, only days ago the administration was non-committal on the notion of a no-fly zone, and now is on board for full scale war.
The Gadhafi regime, for its part, appears to be preparing a defensive effort in Tripoli, with reports of thousands of civilians forming human shields around the Gadhafi compound in the capital. Officials have also suggested they intend to arm the West Libyan populace to resist any possible ground invasion.
Indeed, the footage on the evening of March 19, 2011 was eerily similar to the footage of March 19, 2003, when US forces were launching massive air strikes against targets inside Iraq as part of its “shock and awe strategy.”
Most unsettlingly, while praising the war in his appearance on CNN, retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore (best known for his daring conquest of New Orleans in 2005) described the attacks in the same glowing terms pundits did that evening eight years ago, insisting that the show of overwhelming force would prove to Gadhafi that resistance was futile.