From George Grant, the Telegraph: They said that airpower alone would never prove sufficient to dislodge Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi without the presence of international troops on the ground. Events over the past 48 hours have proven that analysis to be patently false.
Disclosures made in the Daily Telegraph regarding the presence of British special forces helping to guide operations on the ground come as no surprise, especially given their often indispensible role in accurately identifying targets for aerial strikes in such operations. The presence of a handful of SAS operatives does not, however, constitute the kind of intervention force that critics of the NATO air campaign insisted would be required and nor, incidentally, does it constitute an “occupation force” of a kind that would breach the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
Of course, incredible though it may sound, it must be remembered that NATO’s intervention in Libya, which followed the passing of UNSCR 1973 on 17th March 2011, was not about regime change. The rationale was, and remained the protection of Libyan civilians, following Colonel Gaddafi’s murderous pledge to “cleanse Libya house by house. . . .”
The reason why the NATO mission morphed so quickly into one that advocated regime change as part of this effort is because it rapidly became clear that Colonel Gaddafi would not desist in the slaughter of the people he was supposed to represent unless he was forced to do so. His most recent tirade, in which he vowed to cleanse the streets of “traitors, infidels and rats”, reinforces the fact that not only has the Mad Dog lost his grip on reality, but also that the killing will not stop until he is found. . . .
NATO’s role in helping Libya to arrive at this point has been decisive, and of that it can rightly be proud.
George Grant is the Director for Global Security at The Henry Jackson Society, and the author of a number of briefing papers on the Libya conflict. (photo: AFP)