Color me skeptical, in a kind of reverse-Baghdad-milk-factory sort of way. The US had just announced that they would not target Moammar Gaddafi in the prosecution of the UN resolution demanding an end to Gaddafi’s violence against civilians, and then suddenly Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli gets struck by a missile — which, despite “hundreds” of people gathering to “protect” the facility as human shields, didn’t result in a single casualty, according to a Gaddafi spokesman:
The heart of Moammar Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli lay in shambles Monday following bombing by the United States and its allies, prompting a debate about whether the allies were trying to kill the Libyan leader.
A coalition military official insisted neither Gadhafi nor his residence were intended targets of the bombing late Sunday. The official — who was not being identified because of the sensitivity of the information — said the compound was targeted because it contained command-and-control facilities for Libyan forces.
U.S. Vice Adm. Bill Gortney concurred. “We are not going after Gadhafi,” he said at a Pentagon press briefing. Asked about reports of smoke rising from the area of Gadhafi’s palace, Gortney said, “We are not targeting his residence.”
Why wouldn’t we target his compound? The alliance has already struck military targets across Libya under the authority of UN1973 with the justification that attacking those assets will weaken Gaddafi’s ability to wage war against his own people in Benghazi. In that context, it makes more sense to attack command and control locations than runways outside of the specific fighting zone. Removing command and control over Gaddafi’s military forces would go much farther toward ending the siege of Benghazi than strafing infantry and armor in and around the city.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s gone missing again:
Gadhafi’s whereabouts — and his plans after promising a “long-drawn war” — remained unknown Monday.
I wouldn’t read too much into that, either. In a war of this type, leaders don’t typically release their schedules to the media, understanding that they are a legitimate target of war. That’s exactly what this is, a war, and we’re fighting in it for the purpose of protecting Libyans from Gaddafi, and at least Gaddafi understands that. If the alliance is suddenly treating an attack on command and control facilities as a mistake, the question is whether we realize it.