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‘Humanitarian’ Nato bombs kill civilians and rebels

by Judith Orr

Bombing civilians in the name of saving civilians—that is the reality of Western intervention in Libya.

Nato was forced to apologise after an air attack on the capital, Tripoli, last weekend killed nine civilians—two of them babies.

The bomb fell in the middle of Souk al-Gomaa—a working class residential district known for its opposition to Colonel Gaddafi’s regime in the early days of the uprising this year.

This attack came only days after Nato admitted it had hit a column of rebel forces in Brega.

Nato attacks have mistakenly hit rebel forces on at least three different occasions.

News broke that 15 more civilians, including three children, had been killed in another Nato attack on the city within the same 24 hours.

This is not a humanitarian war to help civilians. It is to enable the West to shape Libya’s future in its own interests. Civilians are just collateral damage.

The killing of civilians and rebels is actually making it more difficult for those opposing Gaddafi to organise resistance. Gaddafi can rally support by posing as the victim of Western imperialism.

As the war drags on the Western allies are falling out. Italy wants an end date for military operations to force the pace of a political settlement.

And Barack Obama faces challenges about US forces being sent into combat without congressional authorisation.

There have been threats from US senators to vote to halt funding for Libyan operations.

In Britain arguments are raging between politicians and the military.

Leaks reveal that the second in command of the RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, told MPs that the RAF was overstretched with the wars in Afghanistan and Libya.

And Admiral Stanhope, the navy’s top man, was publicly reprimanded by defence secretary Liam Fox for stating that Britain didn’t have the resources to continue the war in Libya for another six months.

But treasury minister Danny Alexander was forced last week to admit that the cost of the war is soaring. “The campaign is costing tens of millions, potentially into the hundreds of millions, as it goes on,” he said.

“But that money is coming from the reserve that we have set aside precisely for contingencies such as this. It doesn’t have an effect on any other spending.”

Governments always have contingency funds for war—but never for pensions or welfare benefits.


Article information

International
Tue 21 Jun 2011, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2257
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