NATO promised to continue bombing Libya, and that the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, cannot “wait us out.” Spokeswoman Carmen Romero said Tuesday that airstrikes will continue until Gadhafi gives up.
NATO has conducted over 6,000 strike sorties since the start of the operation in March, many on civilian areas like the hospital that was struck on Monday, which resulted in the death of at least 7 civilians. But announcements from the Western powers have maintained that they have the intentions and the resources to perpetuate the bombing at their current levels until Gadhafi surrenders.
Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi on Tuesday, however, told a U.N. envoy that NATO bombing must stop before substantive talks can begin and that Gadhafi’s role as leader was non-negotiable. "This aggression (air strikes) needs to stop immediately, without that we cannot have a dialogue, we cannot solve any problems in Libya," Mahmoudi told a news conference afterwards. Thus far, Britain, France and the Libyan rebel forces have dropped their insistence that any settlement include Gadhafi’s full departure from Libya.
U.S.-NATO demands that Gadhafi leave power rest on two assertions. First, that Gadhafi is a threat to innocent civilians. Given NATO’s record of collateral damage in this mission, that assertion applies to the western powers as well, in principle. Second, that Gadhafi has “lost legitimacy.” But it isn’t clear what legitimacy the brutal rebel groups, now officially recognized as the legitimate governing authority, have over the people of Libya either, despite having been promised tens of billions of dollars in U.S. support.
The U.S. involvement in the war in Libya continues, despite never having been authorized by Congress as required by law, and will continue so long as NATO powers insist on publicly announcing policies of ceaseless bombing, while calls for a ceasefire are ignored.