The two U.S. military airstrikes that were carried out in Libya against ISIS fighters this Monday are the latest in escalating U.S. military involvement in the country, Phyllis Bennis told Democracy Now. Libya has been in “absolute military chaos” since the U.S. government-backed ousting of Muammar Qaddafi’s dictatorship in 2011.
“This is a significant escalation. The city of Sirte is a city of now about 80,000 people,” Bennis said, referencing the Libyan city that was targeted for these attacks. “We’ve had no reports of who else might have been injured or killed in those strikes, or what’s happened to the civilian population.” The Pentagon reports that the campaign would continue until ISIS has been driven from the city, which it took over last year.
“This kind of attack on territory controlled by ISIS simply does not destroy ISIS,” Bennis argued. Taking away ISIS territory control merely creates a “global whack-a-mole,” where ISIS is compelled to “re-emerge as a more traditional terrorist operation, attacking people whether in Brussels, or in Nice, or in Baghdad, or in Kabul, or somewhere else,” she said.
Another key issue in the situation, Bennis explains, is that President Obama authorized these military strikes without any Congressional authorization. In fact, it “continues to rely on the 2001 authorization, which called for military force to be used against the forces who had carried out the attacks of September 11,” even though ISIS did not yet exist at the time the 9/11 attacks occurred. “The administration continues to rely on an outdated, inappropriate authorization, which does not in fact authorize the escalation that they are now calling for,” Bennis said.
“There is no military response to terrorism. President Obama says that over and over again. It’s time we held him accountable to his own words, to say there is no military response, therefore we shouldn’t use military methods against terrorism. It doesn’t work,” Bennis said.