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Dennis Kucinich Was Correct About the Libya Intervention, but Will the U.S. Learn From History?

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Former United States Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio


What does Dennis Kucinich have to do with the Libya intervention?

Few congress members in the United States seem to have the bravery and courage to stand up for what is just and honorable. One of those people is now former Representative Dennis Kucinich who was in the process of attempting to sponsor a piece of legislation that would have called for an end to military operations by the United States in Libya. It would have not allowed countries such as France and the UK to follow in the footsteps of the US and essentially make Libya a fractured and divided country. Has the West not learned its lesson? It is very clear that they have not and they probably will never learn from history. All empires fall due to arrogance, greed and quest for world domination. The US, France and the UK are all having economic and financial difficulties now. These countries cannot afford to engage in more international conflicts that have no clear purpose. If they repeat these mistakes in the future, it will make it much harder for their countries to recover from the effects of the financial crisis.

Author’s note: This is a short essay that I wrote over five years ago and I am expanding upon it. When this was written, Muammar Gadhafi was still alive. Obviously things have changed in Libya and my focus is to bring attention to the fact that intervention in Libya was unjustified.

President Barack Obama did not get authorization from Congress prior to the Libya intervention

It is about time that someone in our Congress had the courage to stand up and condemn the war in Libya because it is in direct violation of our Constitution. The United States Constitution says that only Congress has the authority to declare war and not the President. Furthermore, President Obama had to obtain permission from Congress for the operations in Libya and he did not do so. No matter what Obama says, he simply did not follow the law of the land. This is not an excuse. As Commander in Chief of the Armed forces, Obama was supposed to preserve and protect the US. And then he had the nerve to say that authorization wasn’t necessary? I think Obama is a decent man but he had not held his promise to have a humble foreign policy in this one instance. Let’s set the record straight here. And I know that many Americans will disagree with me on this but I am here to help the people of this country wake up and realize that their government has been lying and misleading them for years. The drone strikes in Pakistan are also not an example of a good foreign policy. This is obvious unless you are too dumb to not see this. These missile strikes usually end up killing innocent people and further enraging Pakistani people. This is one of the few mistakes that Barack Obama made as President so that's why I consider him to be one of the best in our nation's history. But my guess is that this is one of those events that the GOP will remember and try to criticize him for.

Ronald Reagan President of the United States from 1981-1989


The person that is most culpable that started US involvement with Libya is Ronald Reagan

Let’s consider another valid point here. Muammar Gadhafi had been in power since 1969 and somehow the United States and its allies had an issue with him after all these years? And another question to ask was who Gadhafi going to threaten? He was certainly not a threat to Western countries. Let’s not forget that in 1986 then US President Ronald Reagan authorized air strikes that specifically were targeting Gadafi. It is against international law to kill foreign leaders. And now this latest current mess in Libya was estimated to be costing the United States close to $1 billion (Kucinich). All this money had been spent in Libya when our country is facing cuts in education and various social services. And the middle class in this country is shrinking as well. Who is going to save this country from bankruptcy? We cannot keep raising the debt ceiling and deficit spending is not sustainable in the long term. This writer says that Ronald Reagan is actually one of the worst presidents in the history of the US, especially for other disasters such as the Iran Contra Affair and the intervention in Lebanon which eventually led to the deaths of 241 US marines. Mr. Reagan didn’t understand this region and I don’t think many US politicians understand Libya either.

The intervention in Libya was a mistake just like the second war against Iraq

Surely the United States can do much better than this. The United Nations only initially said that there should be a no-fly zone over Libya and that civilians should be protected. Clearly, the UN was dishonest about these intentions and civilians are still getting killed. The United States was essentially involved in Libyan civil war between the people who opposed Gadhafi and those who supported him. This civil war does nothing to increase the security of the United States and it may actually increase the risk of attacks on US and other Western targets. It is not the responsibility of the United States or other countries to determine who the leader of Libya should be. That is up to the Libyan people to decide. Isn’t this true of every country? Does the United States expect every single country in the world to be a functioning Western style democracy?

If the United States is so concerned about freedom and democracy, Omar Al Bashir of North Sudan and Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan are leaders that are far more brutal and autocratic compared to Gadhafi. The reality is that in the eyes of the US government, Gadhafi was no longer useful for their interests and that’s why they want to get him out of Libya. This mission has no clear objective and it is not about saving the people of Libya. This is the same kind of story that has been happening since the 1820s actually. The United States and now the United Kingdom especially have been going around the world occupying and invading countries and changing their leaders by force. These actions are not only wrong and illegal but they are human rights violations. These interventions must stop right now. The United States is on the verge of bankruptcy. The intervention in Libya is similar to the way the war in Iraq started on the basis of faulty logic and reasoning. In Iraq, the excuse that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction was used as a pretext to attack that country. Saddam Hussein was overthrown and executed and the US military has officially lost almost 5,000 soldiers for nothing. And that number is only the official number that is reported although the actual death toll is higher. But the US media has a way of concealing the actual number of dead and wounded soldiers so that now, the United States, France and the UK had once again used faulty logic to justify bombing Libya. Does this sound familiar or not?

It is true that Gadhafi had made lots of mistakes and he was far from perfect but the question to ask is what was the purpose of this intervention? Gadhafi was no saint but in life everything comes at a price. The price for the intervention in Libya is wasted money and lost lives. What if it were your son or daughter that was killed trying to get rid of a foreign leader? Would you say it was worth it? It is really not worth it. I believe in the peaceful resolution to any conflict. Peace is always better than war. The Republicans and other war hungry people will use the same tired, fallacious argument that we have to attack them over there before they get us over here. This is enough! These kinds of interventions make attacks on US soil more likely not less and apparently, Republicans are too dumb to understand this.

Hillary Clinton is also a person that should be partially blamed for Iraq

It is really not fair to put the entire blame on one party. Critics will say that Hillary Clinton, the now former Democratic nominee for President is to blame for the Benghazi incident and the fact that she was in support for using force against Iraq in 2003. That is true that she did support the use of force on Iraq and even this writer agrees that she has her flaws. But it has consistently been mostly Republican neoconservatives such as Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that think the US needs boots on the ground to battle ISIS. That is an entirely different issue and I’m not so sure that the US can afford to send forces to Syria to battle ISIS. The invasion of Iraq is the very thing that gave rise to an organization such as ISIS.

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Congressman Kucinich in 2011 voices his opposition to the intervention in Libya

Dennis Kucinich has been proven right about Libya

A true American would stand up for what is right and just and Dennis Kucinich is one of these people. We need more people in this country like him. Our government should be focused on taking care of the needs of its citizens instead of wasting all this money to be involved in a Libyan civil war which was not winnable because it had no clear purpose. Unless we change course and get back to the principles that made this country what it was at the beginning, we will continue on our way to decline and poverty. The intervention in Libya has also led to the establishment of a branch of ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The group is now reported to have killed two Tunisian journalists that had been listed as missing in September 2014. Libya is now a failed state that has been ravaged by chaos, civil strife, and civil war. Dennis Kucinich is probably now seeing that mess unfold before his eyes. I congratulate him for knowing what a foolish mistake it was for the US to get involved in Libya. Throughout history, there have been wars that the Western world needed to intervene in such as World War 2 and then there is the conflict in Libya. There is a big difference between the two wars. Those of us that are intelligent enough and have studied and read about world history know the answer.

Libya is still having problems of internal conflict and chaos even in 2019 as it is being reported that three military personnel were killed and 14 others were wounded after an airstrike on the UN accepted Government of National Accord on August 2, 2019. Forces loyal to East Libya commander Khalifa Haftar have been engaged in these kinds of acts to try and capture Libya’s capital of Tripoli since April. According to reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), these kinds of clashes between these two sides have killed more than 1,000 people and injured more than 5,500 others. The United States could use some real leadership now but it sadly has none.

Works Cited

Kucinich, Dennis. The Guardian. 6 July 2011. 7 July 2011 <>.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian


Ara Vahanian (author) from LOS ANGELES on May 12, 2016:

Thanks for this insightful comment. Reagan intervened a lot in other countries as President and I would say that the idea that Arab countries were ready for democracy is just a pipe dream. They have a system of governing that is the opposite of what we know as democracy. But as the Libya intervention shows, the West has not learned from history. There is no evidence that Libya even posed a threat in 2011. I think many Arabs would probably like to go back to the way their countries were before. Meanwhile, as the US continues to spend more money on the military, people in the country are finding it much tougher to survive. There are "necessary" conflicts and then there's this one in Libya which was counterproductive.

CJ Kelly from the PNW on May 12, 2016:

While I agree that staying out of Libya was better than full engagement, we should at least be helping diplomatically. What's happening there is spreading throughout North Africa. Tunisia is bearing the brunt of that now. Unfortunately, there were those in the U.S. who thought the Arab world was ready for democracy and it wasn't. That started with GW Bush and then continued w/Obama ("Arab Spring"). Never thought we would miss the era of the Middle East despot.

Also, Reagan did not start intervention in Libya. After those incidents in the 1980s, I don't know of other involvements in the country or even in North Africa. That's a stretch. Reagan's response to Gadhafi was caused by the killing of a U.S. serviceman in West Germany. While the use of force may have been out of proportion, to blame him for today's Libya mess is hyperbole.

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