I would hate to be the commander of the NATO forces providing protection to Libya‘s citizens. The task is close to impossible: bombs, missiles and planes may be very powerful weapons, but if your brief is to use them to protect without killing people, they have their limitations.
The death of Saif al Arab Ghaddafi along with three children yesterday may be counted as an attempt by NATO forces to increase pressure on Col. Ghaddafi. I do not think it was – it raises too many other issues, risking the loss of the broad support for the action being taken and undermining the justification and moral motivation for the what is being done.
That buildings connected to Ghaddafi’s hold on power are being hit does count as ramping up the pressure. It sends a simple message: we are getting closer to you, we can hit things just beside you. We can, if we want to, hit you directly. This threat, however, loses its potency if the “target” is actually hit; Ghaddafi’s son and grandchildren count as close enough for that.
I can only hope that the fall-out on this will not undermine the efforts to help the anti-Ghaddafi revolution, or the relief of Misrata and other beleaguered rebel areas in Western Libya.