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Gadhafi Keeps Bombing Own People; Senators Counsel Go-Slow Approach

I haven’t been totally keeping up with events in Libya, but apparently Moammar Gadhafi has found some loyalists carry out his murderous schemes:

With escalating hostilities bringing Libya closer to civil war, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces struck back at his opponents on three fronts, with special forces, regular army troops and, rebels said, fighter jets.

But the rebels dismissed the attacks Monday as ineffectual, and Colonel Qaddafi faced a growing international campaign to force him from power, as the Obama administration announced it had seized $30 billion in Libyan assets and the European Union adopted an arms embargo and other sanctions.

As the Pentagon began repositioning Navy warships to support a possible humanitarian or military intervention, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton bluntly told the Libyan leader to surrender power “now, without further violence or delay.”

The attacks by the colonel’s troops on an oil refinery in central Libya and on cities on either side of the country unsettled rebel leaders — who have maintained that they are close to liberating the country — and showed that despite defections by the military, the government may still possess powerful assets, including fighter pilots willing to bomb Libyan cities.

Gadhafi sat down with ABC News and pulled a Charlie Sheen, claiming that “the people love me” and would die to protect him.

While Gadhafi continues to try to murder his own people, US and British forces moved closer to a showdown, including a potential military component. The contingency plans are in place for a no-fly zone at the very least, while Pentagon ships are in the area. But there is at least some opposition to the idea of an extended military commitment, and from some unlikely sources:

“Dependent upon the method of delivery and what we decide to do we could decide to have a war in Libya to join the war in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) told reporters, saying he opposed arming the Libyan resistance or imposing a no-fly zone. “You know, people need to be very thoughtful about entering wars without a declaration and without much more congressional scrutiny of what’s involved.”

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters that a no-fly zone as part of a multinational effort could be effective, but warned that talk of arms shipments was very premature.

“I’m not sure who’s who yet,” he said of the nascent movement to overthrow Muammar Qadaffi. “Anything we can do to expedite his departure and get him off the world stage would be good, but you have to think these things through. One thing I’ve learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to think these things through.”

Graham and Lugar have their own reasons and I don’t think they line up with my own. But anytime someone in Washington puts the brakes on empire, it’s worth noting.

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David Dayen

David Dayen