The United States, France and Britain began air strikes and missile attacks on Libyan targets Saturday, initiating a war of aggression that threatens to destabilize North Africa and the entire Middle East. The first two days of bombing have already claimed many lives among the Libyan population that the imperialist powers falsely claim to be protecting.
The war is the first step in a campaign by Washington and its partners in crime to strike back against the popular movements that have overthrown US stooge regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and are threatening US-backed monarchies and dictatorships in Bahrain, Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Press accounts from Benghazi, the headquarters of the rebel forces in eastern Libya, suggest that hundreds have already been killed in the air and missile strikes. There were reports of seven to ten smoldering hulks of tanks on a road outside the city. Libyan army troops are virtually defenseless against attacks with high-tech weaponry, including cruise missiles and smart bombs.
French warplanes reportedly struck the first blow, with 20 Mirage and Rafale jets hitting Libyan army forces outside Benghazi. The Royal Air Force deployed Tornado GR4 fast jets, which flew 3,000 miles from Britain to Libya and back, the longest-range British air strike since the Falklands War in 1982.
The US attacks included cruise missiles fired by two guided-missile destroyers and three submarines, as well as bombs dropped by B2 stealth fighter bombers which flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to strike Libyan airfields in a 36-hour round trip.
On Sunday, it was reported that US Air Force F-15s and F-16s were attacking Libyan troop concentrations in coastal cities that have been the focus of recent fighting with rebel forces, including Ras Lanuf, Adjibiya and Brega, as well as around Misurata, Libya's third-largest city.
Forces from Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway were also said to be in action.
The claims by President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and other US spokesmen that the military intervention will be limited to "days, rather than weeks" have no credibility. The scope of the attacks on Libya has widened enormously in the first 48 hours of military action.
There is a logic to military action, and the initial bombardment leads inexorably to the dispatch of "advisers" for the Libyan rebel forces, and then the deployment of imperialist troops to occupy the former Italian colony.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the top military adviser to Obama, appeared on all five television network interview programs Sunday morning to give the Pentagon's evaluation of the initial bombardment.
On Fox News Sunday, he confirmed that the air and missile strikes had gone well beyond those required for enforcement of a no-fly zone on the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. "We hit a lot of targets," he said, "focused on his command and control, focused on his air defense, and actually attacked some of his forces on the ground in the vicinity of Benghazi."
On several of the programs, Mullen was asked about the double standard of the Obama administration, which claims to be attacking Libya in order to prevent Gaddafi from "slaughtering his own citizens," while supporting other Middle East regimes that are equally engaged in bloody repression, most notably Bahrain and Yemen.
"Each one of these countries, I think, is different," Mullen said on NBC, emphasizing the strategic interests of imperialism, not the humanitarian baloney used to dupe American public opinion. "We've had a great friendship with Bahrain for many, many decades. We've got one of our main naval bases there."
On NBC's Meet the Press, Mullen dredged up one of the oldest and most discredited of propaganda ploys, claiming that any deaths caused by US and allied attacks were the fault of the Libyan leader. He said, "What Gaddafi has done is -- has put in place both human shields in some cases, as well as...said that we have generated civilian casualties."
US government spokesmen have advanced such claims after every atrocity perpetrated by American bombs and missiles in the past quarter century. The only thing new is that the top US military officer is announcing ahead of time that when hundreds die from US military action, the blame should be placed on the victims.
Mullen also suggested that US air strikes would be aimed not merely at overtly military targets but at Gaddafi's supply lines and logistic capabilities. This means that all of Libya's economic resources -- with the exception of the oil industry, which the imperialist powers hope to seize intact -- are likely targets for bombs and missiles.