Escalation in Libya: NATO kills civilians to protect civilians

Now it’s called “mission creep”. In Vietnam it was called “escalation”, the process by which war for limited purposes, because unsuccessful, gradually moves up to more violent, destructive, and deadly stages.

The U.S. and NATO attacked Libya for a limited purpose, to establish a no-fly zone in order to protect Libyan civilians from aerial attacks. When that failed to end the Libyan civil war, the U.S. and NATO actively attacked Libyan government forces in support of the rebellion. And now that that has failed to end the civil war, the U.S. and NATO have launched aerial terror attacks that kill Libyan civilians.

According reports in the New York Times and other western media, which have not been denied by the U.S. or NATO, Libyan dictator Gaddafi survived a NATO airstrike on Tripoli on Saturday night, which killed his youngest son and three of his grandchildren. The attack set off celebrations in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

This is how we protect civilians in Libya? It reminds me of a famous quote from the Vietnam War, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”

We’ve tried this before. In 1986, Gaddafi survived a U.S. airstrike on a family compound which killed a young girl Gaddafi said was his daughter, but whom the U.S. said was only his “adopted” daughter. As if that mattered.

If our goal is to keep someone in the fight against us, to insure that he resists negotiation or surrender, can you think of a better way than attacking and killing his family?

In 1956, President Eisenhower wisely refused U.S. support for the attack on Egypt by Britain, France, and Israel, trying to overthrow Egyptian leader Nasser. President Eisenhower applied U.S. pressure to force the three attacking countries to withdraw from Egypt without achieving their political objective.

President Obama and his foreign policy advisors bear the responsibility for involving us in the tragedy in Libya. Only Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who warned us against intervention, and who is resigning, can step down with his reputation unstained.

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