NATO: Killing Qaddafi’s family

NATO planes bombed a Tripoli building that turned out to be the home of Qaddafi's youngest son, Saif al-Arab. The son and three of his children were killed.

Has regime change become NATO’s goal in Libya? asked Richard Spencer in the London Telegraph. Last weekend, NATO planes bombed a Tripoli building in which Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi and his wife were known to be at the time—and it doesn’t look like an accident. The Qaddafis were visiting their youngest son, Saif al-Arab, who was killed along with three of his children. Russia and China, which approved the intervention in Libya only reluctantly in the first place, both expressed displeasure with the “disproportionate” use of force. The Libyan regime called the attack an assassination attempt against the entire Qaddafi family. “What we have now is the law of the jungle,” said government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim. “It is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with protecting civilians.”

It’s hard not to agree, said Maritta Tkalec in Germany’s Berliner Zeitung. “Assassinating a dictator is defensible,” even if it is against international law. But murdering a dictator’s son can’t be tolerated. And slaughtering his grandchildren “should be unthinkable.” Those three little children were all younger than 12. Their deaths have made clear that the U.N. mandate to protect civilians “has been thrown out the window.” NATO deliberately targeted a residential home, knowing that Qaddafi family members were there. The true reason for this war is now apparent: “It’s not about protecting civilians, it’s about taking control of an oil-rich state.”

This is the problem with using U.N. resolutions as pretexts for war, said the Financial Times Deutschland in an editorial. NATO has “maneuvered itself into an almost hopeless situation.” The rebels’ defeat has been prevented, but their victory is out of reach unless NATO either sends in ground troops or kills Qaddafi. “The problem: Both those actions are beyond the scope of the U.N. mandate.” NATO now has no choice but to return to firing at only military targets—and hope that one of its shells “accidentally lands on Qaddafi.”

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Why should NATO agonize over targeting? asked the Netherlands’ De Telegraaf. Given the atrocities Qaddafi has perpetrated against his own people, killing him is entirely justified. His crimes go beyond the airstrikes against civilians in Misurata to include torture of demonstrators and the execution of hospital patients. And he has been “masterminding these crimes against humanity from the very building” that NATO bombed. That makes it a legitimate target, no matter who lived there. NATO simply has to “carry the fight to the command centers in Tripoli,” said the London Times. Yes, some civilians may be killed in such an escalation. But right now, Qaddafi is bombarding Misurata, killing civilians daily. A NATO escalation is the only way to end this war quickly. And “the longer it goes on, the higher the death toll and the more civilians are caught up in the fighting.”

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