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April 20, 2011

Director of Afghan Documentary "Restropo" Killed By Qaddaffy's Shelling in Misrata

Collateral damage:

An Oscar-nominated film director and war photographer was killed Wednesday in the besieged city of Misrata while covering battles between rebels and Libyan government forces. Three other Western photographers apparently working alongside him were wounded.

I understand that that's a good, gripping documentary. But here's the thing: I hope the liberal swells do not take his death as a sudden reason to get ground troops into this situation. Not only would that be a mistake, it would almost be cruel in how blatant the message is sent: Only the important people are important.

The man was British-born, and the British are already escalating their presence there, one advisor at a time. I remember doing that some time ago.

By encouraging and assisting rebel resistance, as George Bush Snr did with the Shias of southern Iraq in 1991, Britain and France risk worsening the plight of the Libyan civilians they are primarily pledged to defend. The UN and concerned aid agencies all agree the humanitarian situation is growing steadily worse, the longer the conflict continues. These considerations have led former British foreign secretary David Owen, among others, to urge the creation of Bosnian or Kurdish-style “safe havens”, starting with an exclusion zone around Misrata defended by British and French troops.

But how long before allied troops so deployed were themselves drawn into direct engagements with pro-Gaddafi forces, be they regular army, mercenary or civilian? Pernicious mission creep tends to blind affected decision-makers to such obvious concerns. “Just as Benghazi was saved within hours, so must Misrata be. We have probably only a few days …” Owen wrote in the Times. In other words, don’t think about it. Just do it.

Not a good idea, definitely not for the US, which has taken on two recent missions to save foreigners from their bad situations and should not be eager to repeat that. And I'd urge the British and French to keep out, too.

Thanks to Jane D'oh.


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posted by Ace at 10:27 PM

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