A Call for Reconciliation with Libya
Ten years ago, at 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 15, 1986, U.S. planes bombed the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi in Libya. The action was ordered by President Reagan without a declaration of war or the approval of the U.S. Congress, following a terrorist attack by unknown individuals on a German discotheque frequented by U.S. soldiers.
The bombing of Tripoli, carried out by American F-111s and F-14s, brought devastating results. A direct target that morning was the home of Libyan leader Mu`ammar Qadhafi. When the smoke had cleared from the bombing, Qadhafi's home was destroyed and his 16-month-old child, Hana, lay dead in the ruins. Homes in the surrounding neighborhood, as well as the French Embassy, had been destroyed with hundreds of civilians dead and wounded. Many of the casualties were children. The damage in Benghazi left countless innocent people dead and wounded as well.
Since that bombing, Libya has been more and more isolated from contact with the United States. However, the demonization of Libya only makes peace more elusive. With the rising tensions in the region, it is crucial that efforts be made on the part of the United States to undertake more constructive diplomatic approaches to the Libyan government.
We cannot ignore that acts of political violence and terrorism have been carried out by many parties in the region, nor forget the suffering and death caused by such acts. We condemn terrorism in any form, whether it be committed by others, or by our own government. But military retaliation neither ends violence, nor creates a climate conducive to meaningful dialogue.
We call upon the United States, within the framework of the United Nations, to initiate conversations with Libya in order to heal the wounds still open in Libya brought about by the 1986 bombing. It would be our hope that such diplomatic efforts would lead toward the lifting of economic boycotts and embargoes and that the free movement of people could take place between the people of Libya and the United States.
With the Cold War ended and peace efforts moving forward in the Middle East, the opportunity is there for new beginnings in Libyan-American relationships. The Fellowship of Reconciliation, with a long history of reconciling work among adversaries, urges the U.S. government to work for the normalization of relations with Libya.
On this tragic anniversary, we mourn for those who died in the April attack ten years ago and call upon our political leaders to use this time of remembrance to begin the reconciliation process between Libya and the United States.
Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960 http://www.nonviolence.org/~nvweb/for
[This statement was published in the April 15, 1996 edition of the Christian Science Monitor newspaper.]
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A CALL FOR RECONCILIATION WITH LIBYA
by the Fellowship of Reconciliation