Atroc­i­ties of the Libyan tyrant

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

On Aug. 26, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional charged that guards loyal to Libyan dic­ta­tor Muam­mar Gad­hafi mur­dered scores of pris­on­ers at two mil­i­tary camps in­side Tripoli. The hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tion based its claim on in­ter­views with de­tainees who es­caped the slaugh­ter.

Other me­dia have re­ported hun­dreds of civil­ians dead in Tripoli’s streets and in gov­ern­ment com­pounds scat­tered through­out the city. Strat­e­gyPage.com, as­sess­ing the grim tes­ti­mony, con­cluded that Gad­hafi’s sol­diers and se­cret po­lice “ap­par­ently had or­ders to kill all rebels, in­clud­ing pris­on­ers.”

Yes, that is very likely, for Gad­hafi it is busi­ness as usual.

Ev­i­dence of war crimes, like that gath­ered by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, will be pre­sented to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC). In June, the ICC is­sued crim­i­nal war­rants for Gad­hafi, his son, Saif, and the regime’s in­tel­li­gence chief, Ab­dal­lah al-Sanussi.

Diplo­mats have good rea­son to ques­tion the util­ity of is­su­ing ICC war­rants dur­ing war­time. The charges may limit options for a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment, such as ex­ile of the dic­ta­tor in lieu of fur­ther war. Hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions such as Amnesty take the po­si­tion that deals ne­go­ti­ated with mur­der­ers like Gad­hafi “make a mock­ery of in­ter­na­tional law.” Again, that point is open to de­bate, es- pe­cially if life-wast­ing and city­de­stroy­ing com­bat ceases when the tyrant runs to Venezuela.

As for in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pros­e­cu­tion after the war, that is an­other mat­ter.

For most Iraqis, Sad­dam Hus­sein’s trial proved cathar­tic, and he got a fair trial.

The re­ports of mass mur­der do pro­vide fur­ther jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion on be­half of the rebels. Any­one fa­mil­iar with Gad­hafi’s long record of ter­ror, theft, tor­ture and war-mak­ing knew that a Gad­hafi vic­tory over the rebels would mean mass ex­e­cu­tions and mass gravesites. More­over, a Gad­hafi win would have told the world that vi­o­lent sub­ju­ga­tion works.

Aware of Gad­hafi’s bloody track record, NATO, un­der the aegis of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1973, en­tered the war to pro­tect civil­ians from the tyrant’s depre­da­tions. Of course, that po­lit­i­cally noble ob­jec­tive ul­ti­mately re­quired a pol­icy con­demned by then­pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Barack Obama in 2008: regime change.

Obama, to his credit, said, “Gad­hafi must go,” and Obama is close to achiev­ing his aim. And although Gad­hafi hasn’t gone, not quite yet, his im­me­di­ate family has re­port­edly fled to Al­ge­ria.

In a press con­fer­ence on Aug. 25, Ab­del Jalil, head of the

Ap­prox­i­mately 0.32 per­cent of Libya’s pop­u­la­tion has died in the war. The com­pa­ra­ble death toll for the United States, with a pop­u­la­tion of 307 mil­lion, is 982,000. How many Libyans have been killed by Gad­hafi’s forces? How many peo­ple would Gad­hafi have mur­dered if he had won?

Libyan rebel Tran­si­tional Na­tional Coun­cil (TNC), said that he be­lieved the war has killed over 20,000 Libyans since it be­gan in mid-February.

No one knows for cer­tain. Rebel fighters ar­gue, with mixed emo­tions, given their own suf­fer­ing and the suf­fer­ing they have wit­nessed, whether or not top­pling Gad­hafi is still worth the ter­ri­ble price.

Sim­ple but grisly math­e­mat­ics pro­vides a sober­ing per­spec­tive on the loss of life. Libya has a pop­u­la­tion of 6.3 mil­lion. For the mo­ment, ac­cept the TNC es­ti­mate of 20,000 dead.

That means ap­prox­i­mately 0.32 per­cent of Libya’s pop­u­la­tion has died in the war. The com­pa­ra­ble death toll for the United States, with a pop­u­la­tion of 307 mil­lion, is 982,000.

How many Libyans have been killed by Gad­hafi’s forces? How many died at rebel hands or in NATO air at­tacks? We don’t know yet; ini­tial Iraq war es­ti­mates, many is­sued to pro­mote a po­lit­i­cal agenda, proved to be in­flated. Even­tu­ally, some­one in Libya will pro­duce an ac­cu­rate ac­count­ing.

How many peo­ple would Gad­hafi have mur­dered if he had won?

Thanks to the rebel vic­tory, that dark num­ber will re­main a mat­ter of spec­u­la­tion.

To see a video break­ing down the events of the war in Libya, go to http://bit.ly/q5K23L.

Austin Bay is a na­tion­ally syn­di­cated colum­nist.

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