Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The quagmire that is Libya

I wonder how many other people are feeling increasingly uneasy about the western led intervention in Libya?

On Sunday, NATO missiles hit a compound where the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is known to live. One of his sons and three of his grandchildren were killed in the attack, but the NATO representatives continue to insist they’re not trying to kill Muammar Gaddafi. In my opinion, their credibility is completely shot. If Muammar Gaddafi is killed in the next one of these attacks, are they then going to say it was accidental? Would anyone believe them? Assassination of a head of state is illegal under international law, and forbidden by various US presidential orders.

Are the deaths of the three grandchildren just an unfortunate consequence of NATO forces having fired missiles into the compound?

As I noted in an earlier post, the Libyan situation is far from easy to understand. There are significant tribal and religious issues involved in the conflict and there is some serious question as to what unseen entity is funding the so-called “rebels” in the eastern part of the country, around the city of Benghazi. The rebels began the campaign in mid-February. Since last month they have been aided by an international coalition acting on a so-called UN mandate. That coalition now includes ground troops.

Gaddafi's overarching strategy has never been to win a conventional war, but to induce symbolically prominent casualties, drive a wedge between more committed and more ambivalent members of the coalition, and knock away the pillars of political support on which this intervention was built.

Thus far, the coalition had sought to purchase coalition longevity at the price of campaign intensity. If that balance continues to shift towards the latter, NATO runs the risk of playing into the regime's hands.

More importantly, perhaps it’s time for a serious conversation as to why member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are conducting an air and ground war in Libya.

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