NATO’s Depraved Disregard for Libyan Civilian Casualties

By Glen Ford

December 21, 2011 “BAR‘ — 

After leaving the door open to the United States and its European allies to destroy Libya from the air for seven brutal months, Russia is now pressing for an investigation of civilian casualties inflicted by NATO. The Russians, along with the Chinese, abstained from voting on the infamous United Nations Security Council resolution establishing a “no-fly” zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians, a legal fig leaf that NATO interpreted as a go-ahead to batter Libya with 7,700 bombs and missiles. Incredibly, NATO’s secretary general proclaimed in November that no civilian casualties had resulted – that is, no confirmed civilian casualties. NATO made sure there could be no confirmation of civilian killings through its own classic Catch-22 policy: Only those civilians that NATO, itself, confirmed were dead could be listed as killed, and NATO’s firm policy was never to investigate civilian casualties. Thus, the civilian death toll was guaranteed to be zero.


The Russian envoy to the UN describes NATO’s claims as “pure propaganda” – but it’s much worse than that. NATO carried out a plan designed for no other purpose than to hide the killing of civilians, to methodically suppress all evidence of war crimes. And that is certainly not only clear evidence of intent to commit war crimes, but is also, itself, a violation of the rules of war – that is, a separate war crime. International law requires that combatants take care to minimize civilian casualties. NATO’s policy of refusing to investigate civilian deaths is evidence on its face of a depraved disregard for civilian lives and the intention to avoid prosecution for crimes against civilians. By the standards of international law, the entire NATO chain of command, civilian and military, should face trial for war crimes. That means, the military and civilian authorities of France, Britain, the United States, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Canada, plus their Persian Gulf allies Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who joined in the criminal enterprise. And yes, that means U.S. commander-in-chief Barack Obama, who ghoulishly “led from behind” by flying about one-fifth of the missions and providing most of the bombs and missiles and logistical support.


By the standards of international law, the entire NATO chain of command, civilian and military, should face trial for war crimes.”


The New York Times claims its own investigation has uncovered between 40 and 70 civilian victims of NATO, a ludicrously low number in an air offensive that struck scores of Libyan cities and villages, in a war that NATO’s Libyan allies claim killed 40,000 people. TheTimes and its western corporate media colleagues have no moral authority in this matter, having acted as megaphones and virtual agents of NATO’s massive psychological warfare operation against the Libyan government. They reported fictitious tales of massive rapes by Libyan soldiers as fact, and fanned the flames of race war by spreading the lie that the Libyan regime was protected by legions of black African mercenaries. Thousands of black Libyan citizens and African migrant workers are dead at least partially as a result of western media lies.

Nowhere in the New York Times‘ puny list of civilian dead do the names of Moammar Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren appear. They were killed in the last days of April by NATO bombs that struck Gaddafi’s home – four civilians killed in an assassination attempt that was, itself, illegal under U.S. and international law. The New York Times was not upset, then. They remain accomplices in the same crimes they purport to investigate.

Glen Ford can be contacted at

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