Obama sends drones to Libya
21 Apr, 2011 15:39
US President Barack Obama has approved the use of unmanned military predator drones in Libya to join the NATO air campaign the US once said it was leaving.
“President Obama has said that where we have some unique capabilities, he is willing to use those," US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said. "And in fact he has approved the use of armed Predators."The US State Department has also confirmed the US will sent $25 million in assistance to the Libyan rebel fighters through both the State Department and the US Department of Defense.A majority of the aid will come from the Defense Department, although the money was requested from US President Barack Obama by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.“We expect that most or all of these will be from [Defense Department] stocks,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Darryn James told POLITICO. If the funds are approved the Department of Defense would be responsible providing equipment such as body armor, radios, medical supplies, food and other items to assist the rebel forces in dire need of supplies. The State Department said there were no initial plans to provide direct arms at this time and that the funds would be used on goods and services; cash would not be sent to rebel groups. “It’s actually in goods and services that would be drawn down from items already in government stocks that correspond with the needs [of the rebel movement],” Clinton said. Thus far, the Department of Defense has spent at least $608 million on military activities in Libya. At the current rate, the Pentagon is poised to spend approximately $40 million per month on Libya alone. David Swanson, the author of "War is a Lie" said drones are likely to kill more people, more civilians and will cause increased violence, not help the situation on the ground. This will endanger morel lives, not less.“It’s lunacy,” he said, commenting on the use of drones. “The United Nations denounces this as illegal.” The use of drones and other measures in Libya violates the UN resolution, he argued. The resolution was enacted to create a no-fly zone and protect civilians, not arm rebels. Arming the rebels and using missiles and drones violates the arms embargo put in place by the UN.Swanson said he believes the war will go on for years and create an ongoing statement in a civil war. The war was launched on the supposed motivation of saving lives and assisting in humanitarian needs. Using drones and American weapons does the opposite. In addition, the use of drones allows the US military to sell the war at home; when American lives are not directly threatened the American people are less likely to object, he explained. “NATO didn’t work, the Tomahawks in the beginning, almost 200 of them, didn’t work. So, what do you do? You call the drones,” said Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar. “But, it’s not going to work.”He explained drones will merely will kill more people and raise the level of collateral damage. This is what happens when drones are used in urban warfare, he said. It is unavoidable.