Launched yesterday, America’s new air war in Libya has been in the planning stages for months, but was still the subject of little to no real debate. Indeed, the first real public comments came today, with President Obama declaring that the new campaign of airstrikes against Libya are in America’s “national security interest.”
Beginning yesterday morning, US airstrikes have centered on the city of Sirte, a mostly ISIS-held city which the UN-backed “unity government” seeks to capture. The unity government requested the US strikes to help them conquer the city, though as one of three formal governments in Libya, it is unclear if the US is also committing itself to seeing that this particular government ends up with the city, even if it means war with the other two.
Whatever the case, Italy wants in, and Foreign Minister Paolo Genitioni today said that the country would be willing to allow the US to use an air base in Sicily to conduct their air war, despite a treaty which only allows the US access to the base for “defensive” operations.
Obama says the new operation is authorized currently as a “30-day mission,” though there is no reason to expect that this is meant to serve as a timetable for it. The last US attack on Libya back in 2011, extended well beyond its initial schedule, and the White House openly rejected the need for Congressional authorization.
Indeed, officials say this new campaign in Libya “has no end point at this particular moment,” meaning the 30-day date was a PR decision, part of the latest effort by the administration to advance the false idea that this is a brief, limited operation, figuring that by the time people start asking how long this new war is going to last, they’ll be out of office at any rate.