Helping NATO Downplay Its Violations of International Law in Libya

by Apr 16, 2012Foreign Policy0 comments

It is one thing for NATO to downplay its killing of civilians and other violations of international law, but quite another when the media does the same thing.

NATO has completed an assessment of its conduct during its illegal intervention to overthrow the Gaddafi regime in Libya (yeah, yeah, let’s set aside this silly business of saying that U.N. Resolution 1973 authorized this; it did not). The New York Times obtained a copy and reports one of NATO’s main self-criticisms was that it “overly relied on the United States” (yeah, we can set aside this silly business about the U.S. “taking a back seat” role in the bombing):

The report also spotlights … that the United States has emerged “by default” as the NATO specialist in providing precision-guided munitions — which made up virtually all of the 7,700 bombs and missiles dropped or fired on Libya — and a vast majority of specialized aircraft that conduct aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, or I.S.R. in military parlance.

The article also notes that Senators Joseph Lieberman and John “Bomb Bomb Iran” McCain are advocating bombing Syria.

They once again called on the international community to arm the Syrian rebels and to intervene militarily to create and protect havens for Syrian civilians and rebels receiving training.

“Airstrikes would help to establish and defend safe havens in Syria, especially in the north, in which opposition forces can organize and plan their political and military activities against Assad,” Mr. McCain said last month at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Towards the end of the article, the Times notes:

The report was silent on the controversies that have followed the campaign. These included questions surrounding at least scores of civilian deaths caused by NATO action, which have been documented by independent researchers and the United Nations alike, and accusations by survivors and human rights organizations that alliance naval vessels did not assist boats in distress carrying migrants who later perished at sea.

Fred Abrahams, a special adviser for Human Rights Watch, said the report was consistent with the alliance’s refusal to acknowledge clear mistakes, and revealed a “willful decision not to look at civilian casualties.”

…The report … did not disclose that forward air control teams — troops on the ground to help guide planes to intended targets — were used later in the conflict by member nations,

Shouldn’t NATO’s refusal to examine its conduct with regard to its killing of civilians be the main story? Shouldn’t that be the headline, rather than “NATO Sees Flaws in Air Campaign Against Qaddafi”? Isn’t the Times‘ own observation that NATO violated the U.N. resolution, which forbid member nations from placing boots on the ground in Libya, also more worthy of a headline than a vague comment in the very last paragraph?

It is one thing for NATO to downplay its killing of civilians and other violations of international law, but quite another when the media does the same thing.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

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