Tuesday, March 29, 2011

President Obama's Omission

The following extract from President Obama’s speech yesterday about the United Nations sanctioned intervention in Libya caught my attention:
That's the kind of leadership [the United States] have shown in Libya. Of course, even when we act as part of a coalition, the risks of any military action will be high. Those risks were realized when one of our planes malfunctioned over Libya. Yet when one of our airmen parachuted to the ground, in a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States in a region that has such a difficult history with our country, this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies.”
I deeply appreciate the President's effort to describe Arabs as human beings. But according to a recent article in The New York Times, what Obama failed to mention about this incident is deeply problematic. At the time the newspaper reported that:
A Marine Corps officer said that the grounded pilot, who was in contact with rescue crews in the air, asked for bombs to be dropped as a precaution before the crews landed to pick him up. “My understanding is he asked for the ordnance to be delivered between where he was located and where he saw people coming toward him,” the officer said, adding that the pilot evidently made the request “to keep what he thought was a force closing in on him from closing in on him.”

In response, two Harrier attack jets that were part of the rescue team dropped two 500-pound bombs before a Marine Osprey helicopter landed to pick up the pilot, at about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday local time. The Marine officer said he did not know if the people approaching the pilot were friendly or hostile or what damage the bombs had caused.
In a later interview with ABC News, the marines who were part of the rescue mission confirmed that they dropped the two bombs to prevent locals from approaching the downed pilots and as a warning to the villagers because the Americans did not know if they were pro-Qaddafi or pro-rebel. We still do not know if these bombs caused any damage. But the fact that they were dropped at all speaks volumes.

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