Wednesday, 27 March 2013

President Reagan's air strikes against Libya

[An interesting article headlined Congress Shouldn’t Give the President New Power to Fight Terrorists appeared yesterday on the US news, politics and law website Slate. It argues against a projected new law according the President further power to take action against terrorist groups.  The following are excerpts:]

The search for meaningful constraints on power is indeed the central challenge of our constitutional system. But Congress has an abysmal track record of successfully reining in presidential uses of force overseas. And there is little cause for hope it will succeed here. (...)

This is hardly to say the president’s decision to use force operates under no constraint at all. Using force is expensive, it is alienating, it is provocative, and it may create greater threats to the American people than it prevents. Presidents have to convince the American public that war is worth fighting. This has even been true when they respond to acts of terror in self-defense. When President Reagan ordered strikes against Libya following the bombing of the civilian airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, he made a speech from the Oval Office. (...)

Today, it is this lack of transparency—not Congress’ relative apathy—that has boosted executive power and threatened the legitimacy of current drone operations. If Congress wants to do something about this, it should start by beefing up its own oversight efforts.

[President Reagan did not order air strikes against Libya following the destruction of Pan Am 103 in December 1988.  He ordered such strikes in April 1986 following the La Belle nightclub bombing in Berlin earlier that month.  Those who maintain, against the weight of the evidence, that Libya was responsible for Lockerbie regard revenge for the 1986 Reagan air strikes against Tripoli and Benghazi as providing the motive.]


  1. Reagan did, however, threaten to launch air strikes against Libya in retaliation for Lockerbie, about four days after the disaster. Something about hitting a chemical factory?

    Reagan jumped to the conclusion that Libya was behind Lockerbie the minute he heard about it, before the evidence about the Autumn Leaves findings in Germany became common currency in the investigation - which happened almost immediately after that, certainly before the end of the year.

  2. The problem in USA is certain powerful lobby groups profit from war and look for conflict opportunities to use and sell weapons that make things worse creating further business opportunities.

    USA has always been a ruthless Imperial power, but the so-called ‘war on terror’ is the ultimate sales pitch on which these lobbies now feed.

    In a working democracy you would expect these lobbies to be restrained in favour of a more civilised domestic and foreign policy, but in America their Government is in the grip of the ‘Military Industrial Complex and the neo-con lobby’, who think promoting the ‘clash of civilisations’ and inflicting genocide in the Middle-East is good for profits and Israel.

    And in Britain things are as bad with only 15 MPs opposing the destruction of Libya and the Government following the USA line on Iran and Syria too.

    Blaming Libya, Iran, Syria or Palestine for Lockerbie has nothing to do with any evidence, it’s just a case of they’ll do, because ‘they all look the same’!