Negotiating with War Criminals? Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #7 (May 4)

Moammar Qaddafi continues to commit war crimes, attacking a ship in Misurata delivering humanitarian supplies and evacuating wounded, while members of the Libya contact group travel to Rome to devise a political solution to the crisis in Libya. See

Adrian Blomfield, “Libya: aid ship cuts short mission in Misurata after coming under fire — A British-funded aid ship was forced to cut short its mission to evacuate civilians from Libya after Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces shelled the port of Misurata shortly after it docked,” The Telegraph, May 4, 2011.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, “Libya: Aid ship comes under fire in Misrata — An international aid ship helping to evacuate people from the besieged Libyan port of Misrata has come under rocket attack from government forces,” BBC News, May 4, 2011.

Video: In Misrata Port, Ship Braves Shelling to Save Patients, Migrant Workers, May 4, 2011

In New York, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has told the U.N. Security Council that there is evidence that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been and are being committed. He is requesting arrest warrants for three Libyan officialse. Joe Lauria reports,

UNITED NATIONS—The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor told the U.N. Security Council he is seeking arrest warrants against three members of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity in Libya.

“The evidence collected establishes reasonable grounds to believe that widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population have been and continue to be committed in Libya, including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity,” prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday.

“There is also relevant information on the alleged commission of war crimes,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the 15-member council in New York. The Security Council in February referred the situation in Libya to the ICC to investigate possible war-crimes charges.

–Joe Lauria, The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2011

Meanwhile, as noted above, diplomats are traveling to Rome for a meeting of the international contact group on Thursday, where a wide range of items are reported to be on the agenda, including plans for financing for the rebel government in Benghazi, and the political future of Libya.

One problem appears to be that the U.S. and major powers, with the great success of eliminating Bin Laden, have had a hard time paying attention to what is occurring on the ground in Libya. Had they been doing so, there might also be an urgent meeting on Thursday of NATO generals in Brussels.

One is never so vulerable to error as immediately following a great success.

The bankruptcy of the present policy of managing a war campaign by consensus amoung politicians and diplomats, in diplomatic conferences where consesus is the goal, is manifest.

We can at least hope that in Rome full attention will be given not to the many sideshows that are on offer (e.g., Berlusconi’s idea of putting a time limit on the coalition’s military operation), but rather to the central issue:

Will the coalition give its military commanders clear instructions to throw all of their resources into an effort to win the battle against Qaddafi?

It is certainly time for boots on the ground, in the form of amphibious and other forces that can secure the port of Misurata so that humanitarian aid can be supplied to the population, and the wounded can be evacuated.

Or should the Rome contact group consider a cease-fire that leaves Qaddafi in command of his troops, with a view toward a political settlement–with a regime which is engaged in an ongoing campaign of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against its people?

Stay tuned.

The Trenchant Observer

For previous articles on Libya, see the following:

If Misrata falls…: Obama’s debacle in Libya– Update #6 (May 2)
May 2, 2011

Fierce Artillery Attacks on Misurata: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #5 (May 1)
May 1, 2011

NATO Impotent: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #4 (April 28)
April 29, 2011

The Human Cost: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #3 (April 26)
April 26, 2011

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #2 (April 23)
April 23, 2011

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #1 (April 22)
April 22, 2011

Obama’s Debacle in Libya
April 21, 2011

Libya — “All necessary measures”
March 29, 2011

Current military actions in Libya
March 26, 2011

“Analyst-in-Chief” muddies waters; “Commander-in-Chief” cannot be found
March 22, 2011

Shooting Straight About Military Operations in Libya
March 21, 2011

While Carthage Burns, Obama Dithers
March 14, 2011

Zawiyah–Qaddafi’s victory, but stories will be told
March 10th, 2011

Libya—America Abdicates Global Leadership in Struggle for Democracy
March 10th, 2011

Zawiyah 2011 = Srebrenice 2005
March 8th, 2011

Libya and “The Audacity to Act”
March 6, 2011

The Struggle for Democracy in Bolivia, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, and Iran
March 3, 2011

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

2 Comments on "Negotiating with War Criminals? Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #7 (May 4)"

  1. Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya. In Libya weve urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support.

  2. Providing blanket immunity to all low-level and senior government officials wont prevent possible war crimes from happening again. and Ditch the National Surveillance State..Speaking of war crimes how about Bush Cheney and the rest?

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