NATO Aims to Kill Qaddafi

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As mentioned above, the Security Council acted to prevent an imminent massacre of civilians in Benghazi and elsewhere in the country, but did not authorize open-ended attacks against Qaddafi himself or against his family. The operative wording of the Security Council authorization to member states was to “take all necessary measures…to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack.”

Assassinating Qaddafi would not put an end to civilian deaths. Far from constituting a “necessary measure” to protect civilians, killing Qaddafi could well have the opposite unintended consequence, by unleashing a more violent tribal war between Qaddafi loyalists and opposing tribes, with civilians caught in the middle. Moreover, even if the rebels succeed in taking power (whoever they really are), how do we know that they would not turn with vengeance on civilians they consider supporters of Qaddafi?

Furthermore, assassinating a leader who is engaged in a civil war, but not responsible for hostilities against another country — however vile the international community may consider that leader to be — is highly problematic under international law. Article 23b of the Annex to the Hague Convention of 1907 states, “It is especially forbidden to kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army.” The term “treacherously” as used in this context has been interpreted to refer to political assassinations. And, let’s not forget, NATO is attempting to assassinate the leader of a nation who, for the last several years, has been non-hostile to NATO members.

The United Nations Charter allows nations to defend themselves by all means necessary from attack, but also states that “Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.” Qaddafi’s regime had not attacked any other nation, nor threatened such an attack, when the Security Council passed its resolution authorizing military action against the regime.

For that matter, under United States law, assassination is currently rendered illegal by Executive Order 12333. There is also no congressional authorization for President Obama to remain engaged in hostilities in Libya, much less to provide any support (through NATO or otherwise) for forcibly removing Qaddafi from power.

In authorizing the military action in Libya and involving outside intervention in an internal conflict, the architects of Security Council Resolution 1973 relied on a developing concept under international law known as the “responsibility to protect.” At a 2005 gathering of world leaders in New York for the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly (World Summit), heads of state and government reached consensus on the responsibility to protect civilian populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. If a member state fails to protect its own civilian populations or is, in fact, the perpetrator of such crimes, the international community is supposed to take stronger measures, including the collective use of force through the UN Security Council to provide protection if necessary.

However, the situation in Libya at this time clearly does not fit this criteria. And NATO action has ostensibly exceeded the authority of UN resolution 1973. This is to say nothing of President Obama’s March declaration that “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake,” and that coalition forces would only play a supporting role in helping the Libyan people “determine their own destiny.” Never a clear end game in sight, it now appears that the effort in Libya has switched objectives midstream.

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  • JosephWiess

    Imagine that, NATO trying to kill innocent people. That's what happens when you forget the legality of what you are doing. We need to get out of Libya, out of Iraq, out of afghanistan.

  • ReconRambo

    The United Nations, Nato, the United States and other European governments are hypocrites in their dealings with Libya when they will not and do not deal in like manner with the leaders and countries of Syria, Jordan and other Middle Eastern nation perpetrating the same deeds against their citizens. Like Joseph above, we should get our troops out of these countries and use our Air Force and unmanned drones to take out the enemy and as situations warrant, send in Special Forces as needed for quick strikes.

  • S E CLEM

    Imagin, NATO willing to bomb civilian areas just to get rid of Kadaffi, in what is a civil war, in which they have no business. But, interestingly, were not these same countries who are part of NATO so eager to condemn Israel for defending herself from genocidal Hamas raining rockets on Israel's civilian? Tells you we are in this upside down world where black is white…….

  • Len Powder

    Assassinating Qaddafi was the duplicitous intention of Obama and NATO from the beginning. What's so incongruent is that there are bigger fish to fry. Saddam Hussein was one. Assad in Syria is another. Qaddafi is an insignificant dictator compared to these two, yet the 'coalition' has targeted him for disposal while many strenously opposed doing the same to Saddam and Assad is totally off the radar as if nothing untoward was going on in Syria. Our leaders – domestic & international-are liars and dissemblers. This is the lesson of Libya made possible by the manifest incongruity and ineptness of Obama and his fellow NATO assassins. They are determined to get Qaddafi no matter how many innocent people have to lose their lives. Our politicians have become the evil we need to resist and defeat. They care nothing for international law, the taking of innocent lives, or the costs involved in international police actions. They are more dangerous than Qaddafi ever will be.