NATO bombards civilians in Libya 15

It’s never a surprise when a political act turns out to be a bitter mockery of the humanitarian values it’s supposed to serve.

So the news that civilians in Libya are being bombed by NATO, which intervened in the Libyan civil war to protect civilians, elicits little more than a world-weary sigh from our Roving Eye War Reporter.

REWR, having sent the news but no detailed dispatch home, refers readers to two posts of ours (find them through the research slot):  The danger of R2P, March 23, 2011, in which it is explained that R2P stands for Responsibility to Protect, a UN declaration which provided NATO’s pretext; and A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011. They trace the idea of invoking that piece of lethal self-righteousness to three women in the Obama administration:

  • Samantha Power, Senior Director of Multicultural Affairs at the National Security Council
  • Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations
  • Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

To show just how NATO action in Libya is making a mockery of the R2P, we quote from a report by Mike McNally at PajamasMedia:

The fighters of Libya’s National Transitional Council, the rebel movement turned temporary government, have launched what they say is a “final assault” on Sirte — hometown of ousted dictator Colonel Gaddafi and one of the last redoubts of his supporters. 

Thousands of civilians have fled the town, but thousands more are trapped inside, unable or unwilling to leave. The Red Cross reports that conditions inside Sirte are deteriorating, with people dying in the main hospital due to shortages of medical supplies, fuel, and water; food is also said to be in short supply.

There are no reliable casualty figures, although pro-Gaddafi forces — not surprisingly — are reporting hundreds of civilian deaths caused by both NTC fighters and NATO airstrikes. …

Even if rebel forces aren’t intentionally targeting civilians, the ramshackle nature of the rebel forces and much of their equipment suggests that much of the shelling and rocketing is indiscriminate. Red Cross workers have reported rockets landing among the hospital buildings. …

You could be forgiven for wondering what the NATO forces who are still engaged in Libya plan to do about the situation in Sirte, given that UN Resolution 1973, under which they’re operating, authorizes them to take “all necessary measures” to protect “civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”.  

But far from defending the civilian population of Sirte, NATO warplanes were as recently as Sunday still conducting airstrikes in and around the town in support of the rebels. “Why is NATO bombing us?” asked one man who had fled with his family. It’s a fair question.

NATO had already put a highly elastic interpretation on its mandate under 1973, transitioning swiftly from protecting anti-Gaddafi protesters to flying close air support missions for the rebels.

And adding effective contingents of NATO soldiers to the feeble rag-tag rebel militia for the assault on Tripoli – a fact that NATO has tried to keep under wraps. (See our post Letting Arabs lie, August 24, 2011.)

But even if one takes the view that NATO’s actions from the start of its involvement up to the fall of Tripoli were legally and morally justified, it’s hard to argue that the Gaddafi loyalists besieged in Sirte and elsewhere present an imminent threat to the civilian population in areas now under NTC control. Far from protecting civilians, NATO now finds itself in the position of abetting a humanitarian crisis. Civilians in Sirte face a choice between enduring the shelling and the all-out assault on the town that’s likely within the next few days, and fleeing the city if they’re able. The Red Cross estimates that some 10,000 have fled, but that up to 30,000 more may still be trapped.

So why are NATO and the American, British, and French governments that were so eager to take charge of the “humanitarian” intervention, not doing more to ensure their safety? And where’s the media outcry, along the lines of the reporting which helped to persuade the West to get involved in Libya in the first place? …

At the very least NATO … could arrange the delivery of food, water, and medical supplies …

This is a civil war, and the only crime most of the civilians trapped in Sirte have committed is being on the losing side. Are they now to be denied the protection of the “international community” which a few months ago proclaimed itself so concerned at the loss of innocent life in the country? What happened to the UN’s much-vaunted “Responsibility to Protect”?

Commentators on both left and right raised doubts over NATO’s Libya mission, myself included. The removal of Gaddafi is of course to be welcomed, but while a stable and democratic regime that poses no threat to Western interests may yet emerge, recent events have suggested that outcome is still in doubt.

In doubt? A stable democratic regime in Libya? As in any other Arab country, it’s one of the most unlikely things in the world.

  • Don L

    Couldn’t find the original thread…so posted here.

    Jillian and other interested commenters:

    As previously posted, I took the constructive criticisms to heart and have re-done my website

    Whereas my ‘grumpy’, I don’t like anybody personality shown thru…LOL, I eliminated the word ignorant and replaced it with ‘unaware’.Well, if you visited it before, you will notice a major difference…geez, I hope. 

    I further enhanced the site with interesting mouse overs on the home page.  I kept the three questions and enhanced the three questions answer page…including additional reading recommondations.  An amazing 245 free book lbrary was added…the 10-pack pamphlet and booklet package is still the primary download.  And, some fun tests and a virtual card trick was added…a bit of donation raising on the latter.

    Anyway, I still believe economic knowledge is necessary toward the evaluation of any candidate for office.  Without it, it is merely more of the same emotion only decisioning and nothing will improve.

    Later and enjoy.

    Oh, see the proof…watch the video…you’ll know what I’m talking about…you’ll see the links.  It’s the most important video you’ll ever watch…read the descriptive lead in.

    Don L

    • Jillian Becker

      Don L 

      I glanced over your enhanced website. Looks good. Excellent titles. But it still assumes that the visitor is an ignoramus in economics – as some visitors may be, of course. But others may come seeking confirmation of their opinions. 

      As an ardent free-marketeer I share your devotion to the Scottish-Austrian school. Which makes me wonder – have you got the Scots there? Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson? 

      And what about Ricardo? 

      And – going over to the Austrians – Frederic Bastiat and his colleagues who  joined him when he founded the Austrian school? 

      And do you know the work of Hutt? Very interesting on South Africa. 

      Maybe I’ve just overlooked them or stuff about them on your site because I was in too much of a hurry.  

      I’ll return to it and read some things and maybe comment again. 

      I wish you success with your enterprise, because I too would like everybody to be educated in the economics of “the natural order of liberty”, as Adam Smith more aptly called what Marx called “capitalism”. 

      I’ve noticed that while many of us on the side of freedom read the left’s “holy books” – Marx, the Frankfurt School, etc etc, even perhaps having a go at all those unintelligible French lefties – they, the  socialists or “progressives” or whatever they want to call themselves, don’t read ours. But now maybe your website will win many converts.         

  • Harold

    Off topic, but why are comments closed in the “retractions” post?

    • Jillian Becker

      Harold – 

      Comments were closed under the  “retractions” post – Scientists betray science – by mistake. The facility is now open. Sorry about that.  

  • Harold

    The NATO mission has undoubtedly suffered “mission creep”.  The original “defend civilians” has become  “get rid of Ghadaffi” – or perhaps it always was.   

    What I am not clear about is what NATO / USA should have done.  Should they have left ghadaffi to violently put down the rebellion, not got involved at all?  This would have led to many civillian casualties, and a nasty leader left in place.  Should they have invaded?  No way that could have worked.  What should have been done?

    • George

      IMO  , I believe the original mission was to “get rid of Ghadaffi” and they didn’t really care about the civilians. Am I 100% certain of this ? NOT 100% .   I base my views on this NOT by the biased media but my corresponding with my military friends and associates who have been there and know first hand what is actually going on there  ( from the inside ). In Lybia we now have a certain civilian segment that is more radical in the jihadist movement than the original tyrant Ghadaffi and a mass multitude of civilian innocent men, women and children are being horribly slaughtered in the process.    NATO/USA  moved a brutal murderous terrorist dictator OUT  to be replaced by a significantly large civilian segment of more radical jihadists ultra-extreme fundamentalists.  Sort of a “catch 22”  or damned if they did and damned if they didnt.  What should have been done ?  I know what should have been  done but it will never happen with  you know who in the white house.  The so-called “humanitarian effort”  has harmed or caused the deaths of a multitude of  innocent civilians who are simply caught in the middle. The Middle East is a “powder keg”  and these people have had this mentality and behavior for the past 1400 years and no treaty or negotiations are going to change them. Their religious indoctrination fuels their actions.    This so-called “ULTRA-TOLERANCE ‘  and “ULTRA-COMPASSION”  “bleeding-heart” mentality which we so staunchly embrace here in the USA  is going to backfire  ( in fact it already has ). These throwbacks are using our compassion and ultra-tolerance against us and they will NEVER reciprocate . It’s a war of the minds as well as a physical war. 

      • Harold

        George, I agree agree that the mission was probably remove Ghadaffi from the start.  It does not make much sense to prevent tank movements when they are ghadaffi’s to protect civilians, and support them when they are anti Ghadaffi, also to protect civilians.

        You say you know what should have been done, but you don’t say what it is.

        • Jillian Becker

          Harold – 

          To answer your question, “What should be done?” 

          When Gaddafi had a terrorist act carried out against Americans in Germany, Reagan bombed Tripoli. Gaddafi was quiescent for a couple of years.  

          Later, when the West knew that Gaddafi had a Pan Am jet exploded over Lockerbie, his intelligence chief who carried out his orders was put in prison in Scotland for a few years, and then released. Throughout those years, Gaddafi himself was courted and embraced by Western leaders. Instead, the US should have  sent the SEALs to kill Gaddafi. That’s how to treat tyrants who attack Americans or American interests. 

          There should be no useless, sentimental attempts to “protect civilians”, “win hearts and minds”, or build democracies. 

          Ideally, such tyrannies should not be admitted into the comity of nations. No friendly dealings with them at all. When they offend, they should be whacked down.  

          But some have oil … 

          Oil is a very good reason to go to war. In 1973/1974 when Saudi Arabia hyped the oil price, the US should have taken the Saudi oil fields by force, and kept them. 

          The US has always resisted acquiring an empire – although it is accused of “imperialism” – which is the only other way: permanent rule, colonization. But it could use its power to destroy dangerous despots and guard its interests. Only sentimentality, political correctness, deference to the disgusting UN, and bad leadership prevent it doing so.      

        • George

          Apparently you obviously didn’t get it Harold. That was an indirect hint from a rather sarcastic perspective in literary  prose form.   Actually Ghadaffi was NOT trying to protect civilians .  There is a civil citizenry conflict going on as well as the military tyranny. A large segment of the citizenry are loyalists to Ghadaffi and another large segment are extremist radicals promoting a global jihad movement independent of him and against him. Not only do you have the military command under Ghadaffi but you have the citizen loyalists on the other hand , an extreme jihadists militia and an innocent non-involved citizen population caught not only right in the middle of the crossfire but are the actual ones being targeted for massacre.    Ghadaffi could have been captured a long time ago, or a “surgical special- ops strike team ” could have  “taken him out ”  aka- [ Terminate with extreme prejudice ] a long time ago. We could have supported his rivals to do the job. We have satellite visualization and can track his every  movement as well as predator drones that could track him or terminate him and his minions.   With intel ops we could have informants put surveillance on activities and report of his actions. I can go on and on but the point is well made here.
                          Some of these states are are totally saturated with anti-American jihadists and an agenda against America and our allies  and if push comes to shove then we eliminate the threat by any means necessary ( up to and including a nuclear strike ) if necessary and if there are civilian casualities or collateral damage in a war effort , then those are the consequences of war. I hate war and conflict in general but we as Americans must get away from this PC mindset . You CANNOT fight a PC war. It doesn’t work. Our enemies see our niceness as weakness and they will NEVER reciprocate. They only know and respond to brute military force . The slogan we had in the military was– [   Peace through firepower superiority !  ]

  • George

    Where was NATO during the slaughter in Rhwanda ? Where was NATO during the Vietnam conflict and when the US pulled out , and the North began slaughtering Southern Vietnamese. Where IS NATO during all the terrorist attacks that are currently occuring around the world ?  Where is NATO to defend innocent people against suicide bombimgs or  senseless slaughters occurring NOW ?    Where is NATO when you really need them ? Why isn’t NATO doing what they claim to represent ?   Throughout the Middle East we see one terrorist regieme being replaced by another and what is NATO or that stinking UN doing about it ? People are being tortured , beaten, hung, beheaded , enslaved , and treated worse than any human being could imagine and both NATO and the UN are NOT out there defending their lives. People are dying in  droves and where is NATO and the  UN ? What alliance ?    What treaty ?   What PEACE ?   Show me !  

  • Liz

    Exactly right – there could never be anything close to “democratic” in an Arab country, unless they all started thinking rationally, which is about as likely as the U.N. becoming anything other than a giant snake-pit.   

    • George

      You’re right Liz. What really pisses me off is that here we are the most powerful country in the world with the most powerful military in the world and the most powerful weaponry in the world and yet we’re allowing a bunch of backward, barbaric, sadistic , hate-mongering ancient thinking throwbacks still living as if they’re back in the 7th century boss of around, threaten us , and engage in perpetual acts of terrorism upon us and we put up with this crap .    It’s because we don’t have any strong manly leadership.     We have a bunch of limp-wristed and inept  punk sissyfied PC  misfits running our nation. These bastards could very well get us all killed .  We could lose our nation and civil society because of these worthless politicians in political positions of political  office today. We got attacked on 9/11 and around 3,000 innocent people died.  Most of the culprits were from  Saudi  Arabia.  The world trade center was attacked before as well. The Marine barracks overseas was  bombed and hundreds of Marines killed. The USS Cole was bombed.  There have been  many , many  thousands of terror attacks perpetuated TOTALLY and EXCLUSIVELY by MUSLIMS and yet who do Americans hate more than any group on earth—–ATHEISTS !!!   Why ?   Because we don’t believe in the invisible Daddy In The  Sky .   What acts of terrorism are atheists engaging in ?   Absolutely NONE !!!!!!!!    We would be a thousand times more advanced than we currently are if we had people in political positions who had common sense and did not rule by their stinking religious indoctrination which blinds them and harms all of us.

  • Fan of Heather Mac Donald

    Arab countries will not succeed because they are controlled by Arab men, a group of insecure losers who care not for right versus wrong; the only thing that matters to them is their allegiance to family/tribe/sect/religion, in that order.

    • George

      I agree , except they have no allegiance to FAMILY.  They murder their wives or daughters for the most minor complaint and then the wackos call it ” HONOR ” killing.  They are brainwashed psychopaths and are a dangerous threat to world civil society.

  • George

    America needs to get the %$#@ out of the UN.   The UN ( Useless Neanderthals ) are the most worthless misfits imaginable and yet we keep pouring tons of money into that group ( not to mention having them headquartered in America ).  They are vehemently IMO  anti-American and have done nothing as far as improving world situations. What’s even more insulting is how they allow terrorist nations and nations that practice human rights violations galore  into their  “fold” .   We are the ones overwhelmingly subsidizing that worthless organization.  They are doing not only more harm than good but are actually a threat to world peace and world safety and security. I spit on that organization and  I detest them.