By Aleksey Pushkov – Russia Today
Amid the flurry of comments on the operation that killed the world’s No. 1 terrorist Osama bin Laden, the war in Libya cannot boast of any achievements of similar proportions and is clearly taking longer than expected. Thus, it is no wonder that the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, another “enemy of the civilized world,” is on the agenda today. Evidently, when Barack Obama said that Gaddafi must go, he expected that the latter would obsequiously follow his order. But no such luck. “The Obama administration imagined that a taste of the lash would put Gaddafi in his place,” writes US columnist Steve Chapman. “Either he would stop his attacks, or he would be forced from power, or both. But neither has happened, and neither is about to.” As a result, the main goal of NATO’s war efforts in Libya is now to get Gaddafi. NATO’s leadership has long forgotten about the initial objective, i.e. to protect civilians. Judging by the way they bomb Tripoli, they think Gaddafi is the only person living there. “Any innocent lives saved in Benghazi may be lost elsewhere as the war settles into a bloody stalemate,” Steve Chapman continues. But that’s not all – there are also civilians killed directly by NATO air strikes.
He is right about the stalemate though. Notwithstanding optimistic reports, NATO chiefs are in despair, says the Financial Times: “The result is the allies are still providing enough military support to prevent the rebels’ defeat, but not enough to end the bloodshed or achieve the declared objectives.”
The objective is clear. It is to change the regime in Libya by ousting Gaddafi or, still better, killing him. But this objective declared by the leaders of the US, France and the UK has nothing to do with UN decisions. That’s what prompted Vladimir Putin to make the following comment during his visit to Copenhagen: “Many said that they were not interested in Gaddafi’s death. Now, certain officials say out loud that they want Gaddafi killed. Did anyone authorize such pronouncements? Has any court sentenced him to death? Who can assume the right to kill a man, however bad he might be? Everyone keeps silent on this…. We should act responsibly, in compliance with international law and with consideration for civilians. Meanwhile, the so-called civilized community with all its might attacks a small country and destroys its infrastructure, created by many generations’ efforts. I don’t know whether this is good or bad but I don’t like it.”
The thing is, however, that international law has been consistently and purposefully undermined over the past ten years. When the US and its allies invaded Iraq in 2003, it was an outrageous violation of international law. When Kosovo was separated from Serbia in 2008, this too was another violation of international law. When the West, for all practical purposes, supported Saakashvili in his aggression against Tskhinval in August 2008, it was again an infringement against international law. As a result, international law has been reduced to a nuisance that interferes with plans drawn up in Washington or Brussels. One may recall a remark George W. Bush once made to the press: “International law? I better call my lawyer. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave a staggering answer to Putin’s remark: “We are not targeting him specifically, but we do consider command-and-control targets legitimate targets wherever we find them.” Actually, this statement marked the end of Gates’ career, as he resigned the next day and was replaced by CIA Director Leon Panetta.
However, his resignation clearly does not mean that Gates expressed his personal opinion. The US leadership always deems legitimate whatever it decides to do, even if it is totally illegitimate. They decide to separate Kosovo, and it’s legitimate. They decide to bomb the TV station in Belgrade, and it’s legitimate. They decide to supply Libyan rebels with weapons despite a strict ban by the UN Security Council, and, according to Hillary Clinton and UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, it’s legitimate too. Now the EU is gearing up for a ground operation in Libya, which they call a humanitarian mission. Naturally, its objective is to protect civilians in Libya even better. To achieve this goal, military equipment, troops, engineers, air-traffic controllers and reconnaissance units will be deployed in Libya. In other words, we already have one humanitarian operation underway, and soon there will be another one, even more humanitarian.
If a ground operation is launched, this will show that the resolutions of the UN Security Council, which has clearly prohibited it, mean absolutely nothing. But without a ground operation, the allies will not be able to kill Gaddafi, to end the war quickly and to triumph on the remains of what used to be called international law.