Once again the New York Times leads the way with excellent coverage of happenings in the Mideast and Africa. Please consider Qaddafi Pledges ‘Long War’ as Allies Pursue Air Assault on Libya

A day after American and European forces began a broad campaign of strikes against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader delivered a fresh and defiant tirade on Sunday, pledging retaliation and saying his forces would fight a long war to victory.

He was speaking in a telephone call to state television, which, apparently for security reasons, did not disclose his whereabouts. The Libyan leader has not been seen in public since the United States and European countries unleashed warplanes and missiles in a military intervention on a scale unparalleled in the Arab world since the Iraq war. On Sunday, American B-2 stealth bombers were reported to have struck a major Libyan airfield.

In a first assessment from Washington, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the first day of “operations yesterday went very well,” news reports said. Speaking to NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he said a no-flight zone over Libya to ground Colonel Qaddafi’s warplanes — a prime goal of the attacks — was “effectively” in place and that a loyalist advance on the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi had been halted.

Despite those major setbacks, Colonel Qaddafi said his forces on the ground would win in the end. And he repeated an assertion made on Saturday that he had opened military depots to his supporters and the Libyan people were now fully armed. Instead of an image of the Libyan leader, state television showed a statue of a golden fist clutching a crumpled American fighter plane, a monument to an American strike on his compound in 1986.

Speaking of a “long war,” Colonel Qaddafi said: “We will not leave our land and we will liberate it.”

In a Field of Flowers, the Wreckage of War in Libya

Please consider In a Field of Flowers, the Wreckage of War in Libya.

Rebel fighters watched burning vehicles belonging to loyalist forces after an air`strike near Benghazi on Sunday. Image by Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

The attack seemed to have come out of clear skies onto a field of wildflowers.

Littered across the landscape, some 30 miles south of Benghazi, the detritus of the allied airstrikes on Saturday and Sunday morning offered a panorama of destruction: tanks, charred and battered, their turrets blasted clean off, one with a body still caught in its remnants; a small Toyota truck with its roof torn away; a tank transporter still on fire. But it did not end there.

For miles leading south, the roadsides were littered with burned trucks and burned civilian cars. In some places battle tanks had simply been abandoned, intact, as their crews fled. One thing, though, seemed evident: the units closest to Benghazi seemed to have been hit with their cannons and machine guns still pointing toward the rebel capital.

To the south, though, many had been hit as they headed away from the city in a headlong dash for escape on the long road leading to a distant Tripoli.

“They were retreating,” said Col. Abdullah al-Shafi, an officer in the rebel forces, which had clamored desperately for the allied air help that arrived on Saturday. “Soldiers had taken civilians’ cars and fled. They were ditching their fatigues.”

“This is all France,” a rebel fighter, Tahir Sassi, told a Reuters correspondent as he surveyed the devastation on Sunday. “Today we came through and saw the road open.”

The monuments to the loyalists’ last maneuver were not the victory so often trumpeted in their propaganda. Empty ammunition boxes lay discarded among the flowers. Armored personnel carriers still smoldered alongside wrecked rocket-launchers. Craters pitted the fields, as if there had been multiple strikes, apparently by the pilots of the French warplanes that took credit for firing the first shots in the international, American-backed effort to contain Colonel Qaddafi’s forces.

There is much more information in the above articles that inquiring minds may wish to read.

Images of War

Here are a few images from Detritus of War, an excellent slideshow series of 10 images on the allied attack.

A bomb from an allied aircraft exploded among vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during an airstrike Sunday on the highway outside of Benghazi. Credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

The air strikes seem to have halted the loyalist advance on the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Rebel fighters celebrated along the highway. Credit: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

A rebel supporter waved the rebellion flag atop a burned tank. Credit: Patrick Baz/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Usurpation of Legislative Power

However just this course of action may be, bombing airfields in another country is clearly an act of war. However, only Congress has the power to declare war. For a discussion please consider Declaration of war by the United States

Missing Pieces

What makes this war different from President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq is an outright request for action from the Arab League, a buy-in from the UN Security council, a buy-in from neighboring countries, and a request from Great Britain and France.

It is near-miraculous to get a buy-in from Russia and China on this. Five Nations abstained but neither Russia nor China vetoed the action.

However, where where was the debate in the US? How are we going to pay for this? How long will it last? How much can we spend?

Questions abound.

We were not attacked and there was clearly enough time for the president and Hillary Clinton to make the case to Congress and the citizens of the United States.

Slowly but surely, powers granted Congress in the constitution have been steadily usurped by the executive branch. This sad state of affairs applies to Republican and Democratic president alike.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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