Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Only Battle That Counts?

Libya's loyalists have lost the eastern part of Libya, have lost control of their air space, have been pushed back from Misrata, have lost territory around the Tunisian border and Berber mountain areas, have lost access to oil exports and much of their overseas cash, and have lost a lot of international support.

Yet the NATO alliance and air campaign that prevent Khaddafi from defeating the rebels rests on a foundation of zero tolerance for collateral damage. The fragile coalition requires no errors and the few mistakes made have shaken the alliance. So far, constant Libyan claims of civilian casualties have failed to get traction. But this loyalist effort is likely to be the one front that Khaddafi might win:

Libyan authorities accused NATO of killing 15 people Saturday in an airstrike that hit a restaurant and bakery in the east, while the alliance said there were no indications that civilians had died.

It was the latest outcry from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's government blaming NATO for killing civilians amid a four-month uprising that has sparked a civil war. NATO insists it does all it can to avoid such casualties.

It remains mind boggling that the standard of perfection is what keeps much of the alliance together waging war on Khaddafi. Can NATO hold together longer than Khaddafi's loyalist regime?