I am writing this brief post in response to the recent information coming out of Libya about the death of Gaddafi’s son and three of his grandchildren in an air strike.
From the information provided by the journalists who visited the scene of the attack it is clear that the attack was made not on some sort of command centre but on a residential villa. Apparently some sort of family gathering took place at which Gaddafi was, or was expected to be, in attendance. The attack on the villa can only therefore be explained as an assassination attempt though one that seems to have failed. The Russian Foreign Ministry is surely right to say that NATO claims that Gaddafi is not being deliberately targeted are now simply unbelievable. Though the assassination attempt failed at least four innocent people three of them young children who were members of Gaddafi’s family (his youngest son and his three grandchildren) were killed.
This is straightforward murder. There is nothing in Resolution 1973 that permits it. On the contrary Resolution 1973 is solely concerned with the protection of civilians. As part of an unsuccessful assassination attempt NATO has now killed four. Nor does Resolution 1973 authorise killing Gaddafi, which is an act of attempted murder and which is also contrary to international law.
We now face an important test. Ever since the bombing of the television station in Belgrade in 1999 we have witnessed an ongoing moral collapse. Once upon a time I could not have imagined the British government colluding in torture and yet this has happened. Similarly I cannot imagine any previous British Prime Minister pre Blair countenancing the open murder of the head of state of a foreign power. Even to think of Gladstone, Disraeli, Asquith, Attlee, Macmillan, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan or indeed Thatcher ordering such a thing is to realise that such a thing would have been impossible. During the Second World War Churchill emphatically ruled out any idea of a British attempt to assassinate Hitler. Nor in former times would British public opinion have countenanced an open attempt at murder by the British government.especially one that resulted in the killing of innocent people. On the contrary had such a thing ever happened the result would have triggered a storm. If the response to the murder attempt on Gaddafi is more business as usual then another line in the ongoing descent into barbarism will have been crossed.