.- The head of the Catholic Church in Libya says his people are sick and tired of NATO's bombing campaign. Meanwhile, there are signs of growing discontent in several of the countries whose governments have committed themselves to the operation.
“I hope that everyone’s good will prevails in order to stop this war,” said Bishop Giovanni I. Martinelli, Apostolic Administrator of Tripoli, “because we are tired of the bombing.”
“Even last night there were several,” he told Fides news agency on June 16. “Frankly we are all fed up.” As in past weeks, Bishop Martinelli's comments echoed Pope Benedict XVI's desire for a cease fire and a negotiated solution to the country's crisis.
Earlier in the week, the bishop told Fides that the war seemed to have “become uninteresting” to Western observers, and been “put in the background” in favor of other events.
But growing criticism of the war, from the U.S. Congress and other Western countries, may be bringing the conflict back to the forefront.
A bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers is suing President Barack Obama over his decision to join the war without consulting Congress. House Speaker John Boehner warned the president on June 14 that he would be in violation of the War Powers Act if he continued to involve the U.S. in Libyan “hostilities” past June 19 without consulting Congress.
The president insists he does not need Congress' approval due to the non-traditional nature of the Libyan war. A White House report released to lawmakers on June 15 noted that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”
One of the 10 plaintiffs challenging Obama's legal authority, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D – Ohio) says he will push to defund U.S. operations in Libya.
“This administration brought our nation to war without congressional approval or the support of the American people,” Kucinich said in a June 17 statement.
In England and Italy, two other countries that have joined forces against Colonel Gaddafi, there are similar concerns about the practicality of a prolonged Libyan war.
Admiral Mark Stanhope, Britain's top naval officer, said on June 14 that the British government would have to “request the government to make some challenging decisions about priorities” if the war stretched past September, according to the Associated Press.
Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on June 15 that his country's parliament should block funding for the Libyan war. Agence France-Presse quoted Maroni as saying that “Italy and other European governments should put the money into developing democracy, not bombs.”
Maroni went on to point out that the bombings were causing a refugee crisis for his own country. “As long as there are bombs, refugees will arrive and they will need assistance,” he noted. “We've had more than 20,000 refugees arrive from Libya.”
Bishop Martinelli, who has criticized the coalition's “humanitarian intervention” since its beginning, says it's time for Western governments to stop fighting a war based on unrealistic assumptions.
“I remember,” he told Fides last week, “that an important Western politician, a month ago, said that Gaddafi's fall is a matter of hours. I do not know how long those hours are.”
“Whoever thinks that things can be solved with bombs is wrong,” the bishop stated.