As is now well documented, the rebellion in Libya began with violent attacks on police stations, such as this one in Al-Bayda where people locked inside were reportedly burnt to death:
An intensive propaganda campaign systematically distorted the facts on the ground, including in particular allegations that the Libyan airforce was bombing peaceful protestors and that Libyan soldiers were being massacred for not shooting on unarmed protestors (since proven to have been a false flag operation). This propaganada allowed a mobilisation of the international community and the passing of UN Resolution 1973 which imposed the No-Fly Zone.
It is UN Resolution 1973 which NATO argues provides the legal basis for the coalition operation in Libya as NATO makes clear in their Factsheet on Operation Unified Protector:
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 mandates “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack. In line with this authorisation, NATO conducts reconnaissance, surveillance and information-gathering operations to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians and civilian-populated areas.
Notwithstanding this NATO supported the rebels as they escalated the level of violence directed against those who opposed them, civilians and guest workers with attacks using Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars - in fact any weapons that could be looted from arms dumps or supplied by NATO, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Here is an early example from Misrata of rebel forces nonchantly firing mortars, in between drinking cups of tea:
With the brutal assault on Sirte, which is facing a bombardment from the air, surpassing Guernica, the indiscriminate assaults on civilian areas are now being taken to a higher level:
As we have seen, NATO’s official justification for their operations includes a requirement “to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians or civilian-populated areas.”
Furthermore the justification includes this:
Targeting depends on the decisions of operational commanders. Targets struck to date have included tanks, armoured personnel carriers, air-defence systems and artillery around and approaching key civilian areas including Misrata, Ajdabiyah and Zintan. [My emphasis]
Yet clearly NATO is supporting the rebel use of tanks and artillery around and approaching the key civilian area of Sirte; indeed NATO and its allies are almost certainly supplying the ammunition for these big guns.
Many journalists are having trouble processing this information, let alone communicating it to their readership, as it does not fit in with the overriding paradigm of an operation “intended to protect civilians.”
It remains to be seen, which journalists have the intelligence to realise that the old paradigm is dead and the courage to communicate this fact to their readers. A new paradigm is required, a new framework to understand the NATO war on Libya, one which recognises that the mantra of “responsibity to protect civilians” which NATO repeats at every press conference and in every press release is nothing more than:
1) A propaganda device, aimed at the fooling the public into supporting a war of aggression.
2) A legal device whereby the NATO command seeks to escape responsibility for war crimes.