NATO Steps Up Not Targeting Gaddafi

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“It is certainly not the policy of the coalition, of this administration, to decapitate, if you will, or to effect regime change in Libya by force.” That was White House spokesman Jay Carney early in the war against Libya.

Early Tuesday night coalition aircraft struck 15 targets inside Tripoli. Most of the ordnance was aimed at targets inside Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s compound. Reports describe a thunderous assault, with people howling in fear a mile away.

The New York Times reported the attacks this way:

Just as one strike ended, the sound of jet engines from low-flying aircraft in the stormy skies above the capital signaled the imminence of another. Huge plumes of black smoke rose and converged over the darkened cityscape.

“We thought it was the day of judgment,” one enraged Libyan said.

The intensity of the attacks, and their focus on the area of the Bab al-Aziziya command compound in central Tripoli, appeared to reflect a NATO decision to step up the tempo of the air war over the Libyan capital, perhaps with a view to breaking the stalemate that has threatened to settle over the three-month-old Libyan conflict.

Battleland’s Mark Thompson for weeks has noted that obviously targeting Gaddafi while arguing that the coalition is not targeting Gaddafi is a strange charade, particularly since command-and-control elements are considered legitimate military targets.