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Killing civilians in Libya to protect them

Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
19 June 2011

The war to protect civilians in Libya claimed the lives of five civilians in Tripoli only hours ago. They include two babies killed in the bombing of a house in a poor district of Tripoli. Nato has not yet admitted responsibility, although neither has it denied the action.

What is this war really for? It began with airstrikes and a no fly zone three months ago. Its aim is clearly regime change and the removal of Colonel Gadaffi. The bombing and use of Apache helicopters has not achieved this, instead the war is at a stalemate.

Even the Nato powers are worried about where it is going. They fear that the bombing is getting nowhere but still has to continue. They know that this will mean more casualties of the sort we saw last night. They understand that this will make an already unpopular war even more so.

They have some experience of this. Ten years on from the start of the Afghan war there is no sign of success. In fact the opposite.  Three British soldiers have died in Afghanistan in the last three days. That makes ten in less than a month - a big increase in casualties.

Afghans are dying in large numbers, with three times as many airstrikes used against them compared to a year ago. Despite all the talk of withdrawal dates -- Obama is due to withdraw some troops in July but don’t hold your breath about how many -- the war is not winding down but dragging on its deadly path.

Like Libya, its original aim was dressed up as a humanitarian intervention. Last week a report showed Afghanistan was the worst place in the world for women to be -- largely because of the effects of war.

Just to highlight the cynicism of this claim, President Karzai now reveals the US is in talks with the Taliban. So what exactly is the war for and what are these people dying for?

What is crystal clear in Afghanistan is that there is no military solution. Only a political agreement can end the war. The Nato powers know this but won’t admit it to their own people. The same is true in Libya, where neither side is breaking through militarily, yet all plans for ceasefire are brushed aside as unworkable.

The unworkable solutions are the wars themselves: costly not just in terms of human life, the environment, civil society, but in money which is in such short supply for welfare services and pensions.

Remember Afghanistan and Iraq when they tell you how well the war is going in Libya and how many lives it is saving.

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