LaborTalk for July 19, 2011

The U.S. Adds a New War in Libya
Before Ending Iraq and Afghanistan

By Harry Kelber

Without seeking the approval of Congress, the U.S. State Department has formally recognized the Lybian rebels, now known as the Transitional National Council (TNC) as a "legitimate governing authority" in Libya,

Announcing the decision, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the U.S. was satisfied that the TNC "continues to gain legitimacy as the representative of the Libyan people," and conducts "high-level diplomacy with governments worldwide."

The United States will make available to the TNC at least $34 billion of frozen assets of the Qaddafi government that are now held in banks, as soon as the rebels become properly organized into credible groups of politicians, capable of managing the affairs of the entire country.

A Clinton statement said: "The U.S. will help the TNC sustain its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya and we will look to it to remain steadfast to its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Despite a NATO bombing campaign of more than 6,000 sorties against Qaddafi's troops and military installations, the rebels keep complaining they haven't enough weapons, trained troops and supplies. Much of the mountainous area is short of food, fuel and water, and phone service has been mostly cut off, they said.

The United States recognition of TNC may legally allow purchases of state-owned oil from TNC's rebel leaders The eastern part of Libya is rich in oil, and Italian and French companies are operating in the area. U.S. companies may also wish to join in extracting Libyan oil.

The U.S. Has Spent Hundreds of Billions on Libya

A Pentagon report, published in the Financial Times on July 14, indicates that Washington has spent $664 million on the Lybian war since mid-May 2011. Figures show a running cost of $60 million a month or $2 million a day in the crisis-hit North African country.

At the current rate of spending, the U.S. Department of Defense will face an extra bill of $274 million until the end of the recently extended enforcement of a no-fly zone period by NATO toward the end of September.

The United States is the biggest contributor to the Libyan war, by conducting 70 percent of intelligence missions, over 75 percent of refueling flights and nearly 27 percent of all air strikes, the Pentagon reported.

Polls show that Americans are weary of sacrificing their blood and treasure in ten years of war in Iraq and another ten in Afghanistan They do not want to get deeper into still another war in Libya, no matter how fiercely they hate Col. Qaddafi.

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So why has the AFL-CIO remained silent about the war in Libya, pretending that Libya doesn't exist? Don't they realize that the hundreds of millions of dollars we are spending on Libya can be used to create countless thousands of public works jobs? What, if anything, are our elected officials thinking about?

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