Daily archives: March 21, 2011

On Civilian Casualties

During the initial phase of the war in Iraq, stray US missiles aimed at Iraq hit Kuwait, Turkey and Syria. Two missiles hit Syria which were specifically supposed to hit Baghdad. That is on top of the numerous instances of misidentification. You will also remember that we hit the Chinese Embassy when bombing Belgrade.

Two nights ago, 118 Tomahawk missiles were aimed at 20 targets. These things are extremely destructive. We know that some of the targets were radar installations and SAM missile sites. These are not extensive. Airfields would need more, but the fact that 118 extremely expensive missiles were fired at just 20 targets undoubtedly includes a large measure of redundancy, precisely because the military know very well that some of them will miss.

You cannot send hundreds of cruise missiles and numerous bombing raids into Libya without killing civilians. You do not have to accept anything the Gadaffi regime says to know that.

There are genuine questions arising now about proportionality and whether the allied action really is confined to carrying out the mandate of SCR1973. Taking out air defences can be justified as an essential precursor to setting up the no fly zone. But whether taking out the command and control structure of the entire Libyan armed forces is really necessary to the protection of civilians appears at best a dubious proposition.

The Guardian’s editor, disgraceful Blair catamite Alan Rusbridger is always up for military action to kill Muslims. The Guardian reports that

Critics claimed that the coalition of the willing may have been acting disproportionately and had come perilously close to making Gaddafi’s departure an explicit goal of UN policy

The last part of that quote is misleading nonsense. The “coalition of the willing” have failed miserably to make regime change explicit UN policy. That is extremely clear in SCR1973. What the coalition of the willing are extremely close to doing is acting illegally in making war beyond their UN mandate. That is a very different thing.

According to the Guardian report, the allies are now going on to attack Gadaffi’s artillery and armour. Whether there is still any threat to Benghazi remains unclear. But there seems to be a very real danger that the bombings will only serve to stoke patriotic support for Gadaffi among wide sectors of the population.

Plainly what compliance with SCR1973 would require now is a period of pause, during which the no fly zone is enforced, and whether any further ground attacks are in fact needed to enforce the very limited aims of SCR 1973 can be assessed. If instead we continue to see further intense attacks upon Libya, plainly the coalition is moving into illegality.

Actually, having seen the man in the flesh, I don’t object to the “Mad Dog” descriptions of Gadaffi. Britian has its own “Mad Dog” in Liam Fox, shooting his mouth off about assassinating Gadaffi and doing his best to alienate international support. I remenber Fox as a rumbustious bigot from the beer bar of Glasgow University Union. He was a leading light in the successful campaign to ban the Gay Society. He struck me then as a talentless zealot of deeply unpleasant views. It is deeply worrying that somebody like him can achieve high office.

Al Jazeera have excellent coverage today of the terror being visited upon the people of Bahrain now their democracy movement has been temporarily crushed. The US were complicit in this, and Qatar and the UAE – neither of them democracies, both of them involved in the brutality in Bahrain – are now providing the Arab military forces supposed to give political cover to the coalition.

The endgame may be the division of Libya into two parts – diesel and unleaded.

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