Four reasons why NATO's actions in Libya aren't a modern 'crusade'

In the run-up to military operations over Libya, and since, NATO and the West have been criticized for acting immorally, if not illegally, with an eye to seizing control of Libya’s oil riches. Muammar Qaddafi recently wrote to President Obama blaming NATO for an “unjust war against a small people of a developing country.” Others, including Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, have even gone so far as to equate the Western alliance’s actions as a modern “crusade.”

The following four points from Brooke Smith-Windsor of the NATO Defense College in Rome show that nothing could be farther from the truth.

1. This is about preventing the slaughter of innocents.

CHATEAU DE CHANTILLY, FRANCE: A 14th century French miniature depicts a "History of the Crusades," labeled with this description "Starting to cross a military expedition to the Holy Land." Critics have called NATO's intervention in Libya a modern crusade.

The United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorized “all necessary measures” to enforce the embargo and no-fly zone did so specifically to protect civilians from the brutal and wanton violence of the Qaddafi regime against its own people. It specifically excluded “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” A wholesale invasion of Libya by NATO forces simply is not in the cards.

The NATO alliance has repeatedly expressed its commitment to these principles both in words and deeds. One only need ask the NATO pilots flying Libyan missions about their particularly restrictive rules of engagement, or the reasons for their periodic return to base with full payloads of bombs when the risk of inflicting civilian casualties – collateral damage – was considered too great.

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