Barack Obama has ended his presidential career doing what he does best: dropping bombs. This time, Obama decided to target an ISIS camp in Libya, with initial estimates suggesting over 80 militants (or 80 people, depending on the source) were killed.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters that the fighters training in the camp, located just outside the Libyan city of Sirte, “posed a security risk to Libya, to its neighbors, to our allies in Africa and Europe, and to the United States.”
The motives for the attack are, therefore, arguably a bit dubious given that ISIS is currently making serious headway in Syria, threatening at least 250,000 civilians inside the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor. The U.S. military has been striking the militants making advances in Syria, nor have they been striking the reinforcements piling into Syria from Iraq. These reinforcements have largely turned the tide in the assault on Deir ez-Zor in ISIS’ favor.
Further adding mystery to the attack is the fact that ISIS has almost been driven out of the Libyan city of Sirte entirely. It could be that these fighters located on the outskirts of Sirte posed a serious threat to the entire world, as advanced by the Pentagon. But it is not clear why a handful of ISIS fighters in rural Libya, who have almost been defeated, pose more of a threat than the bulk of its forces currently grappling in Syria.
CNN reported that the Department of Defense showed reporters a rare video of surveillance footage of the ISIS fighters loading weapons into pick-up trucks. A second video showing the camps being bombed was also presented to reporters.
Peter Cook also said the strike was carried out by two US Air Force B-52 bombers flying from Missouri, a 30-plus hourround trip mission. Cook also confirmed that over 100 bombs and missiles were dropped on the targets. According to the Telegraph, the B-52s were refueled five times in the air. The attack also used drones fitted with hellfire missiles.
When the U.S. sealed former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s fate in 2011, it was with an American drone controlled via satellite from Las Vegas, Nevada — and flown out of Sicily — that struck Gaddafi’s motorcade in Sirte. Clearly, the U.S. has aircraft much closer to Libya (and specifically, Sirte) that could be used to strike militants.
The strike was authorized personally by Obama. A “source” told Fox News that the real reason these bombers were used in such inefficient circumstances (considering the distance from Missouri to Libya), was to “send a strategic message” to other adversaries such as Russia and China. If this is true, the strike could possibly be in response to Russia’s decision to host a Libyan faction leader known as Khalifa Haftar, giving him a tour of Russia’s aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov. Haftar opposes the U.N.-backed government based in Tripoli, which currently does not have full control of the country.
Obama’s final actions as president sum up his presidency perfectly: drop over 100 bombs, kill close to 100 people (remember that Obama classifies any military-age male in a strike zone as a combatant, whether or not they are actually fighters), confront nuclear powers Russia and China in the Middle East, and receive little more than a blink from much of the corporate media and his supporters in response.