NATO warplanes again attacked Tripoli, striking government buildings. The Interior Ministry was set ablaze. The lack of outcry about this clear strategy to degrade and decapitate the Libyan government is a bit striking. I guess no other country fears the international community turning on them and trying the same maneuver.

But if NATO seeks to weaken Moammar Gadhafi’s grip on the country, there’s evidence today that they are succeeding. The Libyan oil minister has defected.

The chief of Libya’s oil ministry fled to Tunisia over the weekend, the Tunisian interior ministry said Tuesday, a high-level defection that appeared to further isolate the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The minister, Shukri Ghanem, the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation and a former prime minister, arrived in Tunisia on Saturday, according to Néji Zairi, a spokesman for the Tunisian interior ministry.

I don’t like the lesson NATO member nations are taking from this turn of events. The leading general in Britain said yesterday that NATO would have to strike infrastructure targets in Libya to release Gadhafi from power. If the current bombing campaign isn’t causing civilian casualties and hardship, that suggestion is guaranteed to do so. NATO would say that they want to inspire an uprising against Gadhafi. In actuality they appear to want to do to Gadhafi what they did to Slobodan Milosevic, bombing him out of office.

Gadhafi doesn’t deserve defenders. The International Criminal Court wants him for trial at The Hague. His officials have threatened to place human shields at key government buildings, essentially sacrificing his own people for political gain. But I’m not convinced that NATO’s intervention is the right thing to do morally or legally, and it has not yet succeeded in its fairly clear goal of driving Gadhafi from power.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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