WASHINGTON — Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to senior military and government officials.
As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya, and the Obama administration considers new steps to tip the balance of power there, the coalition has told the rebels that if they endanger civilians, they will not be shielded from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the government’s forces have been punished.
“We’ve been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Qaddafi or pro-opposition,” said a senior Obama administration official. “We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don’t confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians.”
The warnings, and intense consultations within the NATO-led coalition over its rules for attacking anyone who endangers innocent civilians, come at a time when the civil war in Libya is becoming ever more chaotic, and the battle lines ever less distinct. They raise a fundamental question that the military is now grappling with: who in Libya is a civilian?
This has got to be a joke, right? Jon Stewart, you have some priceless material here.
Think about this. A SENIOR official in the Obama administration says they are working really hard to keep the rebels from killing civilians.
But the most serious problem they are facing is they can’t tell who is a civilian.
I really think they are all thugs. I am waching these so-called rebels racing around in the back of Toyota pick=up trucks like a bunch of red necks at a tractor pull and to think we are intervening in some battle they are having with each other. It’s insane! Absolutely insane.
And Obama? Obama, strong leader that he is, is leading the way.
Brian Williams interviewing Obama:
Due respect, Mr. President, watching the reportings of our two correspondents in Libya. What it appears the rebels need is military equipment. Some of their equipment dates back to World War II. Are you ruling out U.S. military hardware assistance?
I’m not ruling it out. But I’m also not ruling it in….”
And that is not Comedy Central but a direct quote.