Francis Boyle: UN resolution prohibits occupation but does not stop attack on land
DANYA NADAR: Welcome to The Real News Network. My name is Danya Nadar, coming to you from Washington, DC. Joining us is Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the College of Law in Champaign, Illinois. Thanks for joining us, Francis.
FRANCIS BOYLE: Well, thank you for having me on, and my best to your audience.
NADAR: What do you think of this resolution? It passed on March 17. What’s in this resolution?
BOYLE: Basically, the resolution as currently drafted authorizes a war across the board against Libya–airstrikes, naval blockade, even a land invasion. The only exception in there is against a foreign military occupation force. But under the laws of war, there is a distinction between a land invasion and an occupation force. For example, when the United States invaded Haiti in 1994 and put 24,000 troops in there, it’s still took the position under the Clinton administration that we were not a foreign military occupation force. So this was very carefully drafted to permit troops on the ground.
NADAR: The way the media has been framing it, that it is specifically going to discuss airstrikes and not ground troops. So is there a part of the resolution that you can outline for us where it shows that?
BOYLE: The language here under paragraph 4, quote, “while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”. But there is a difference between a foreign occupation force and a land attack when troops are attacking, they are not occupying. So I believe this was very carefully drafted to permit a land attack if necessary. We know that British special forces have been in Libya for quite some time. So my guess is they have prepared for way for a land attack if and when that decision is made. Personally, I think this has been underway by the United States, Britain, and France for quite some time, since the outbreak of the crisis there in Benghazi. They’ve moved all their military assets into place. I don’t believe there’s really anything Libya can do to stop a major attack upon it by the United States and NATO. I think we are past this point. If you read the resolution, it does not authorize regime change. But Cameron, Clinton, Obama, Sarkozy have all said Gaddafi has to go.
NADAR: So will the United States, the UK, France, and NATO, will they be violating international law in light of this resolution if they are to go in and topple the Gaddafi regime?
BOYLE: Before President Obama can go to war against Libya, he must have prior and express approval from the United States Congress, under both the War Powers Clause of the United States Constitution and Congress’s own War Powers Resolution of 1973. It does not appear to me that he’s going to bother, despite the fact that Dennis Kucinich, the Democrat, has said something about it, Ron Paul, the Republican, has said something about it, and even yesterday, Senator [Richard] Lugar, the senior ranking Republican–actually, the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has also said something about it. For Obama to launch an attack on Libya would be an impeachable offense under the United States Constitution.
NADAR: Thanks for joining us.
BOYLE: Well, thank you for having me on.
NADAR: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.
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