Gaddafi Forgot The Human Shields

From the BBC,

[Gaddafi’s] State television showed some of the bodies, all, apparently, of men, but did not say whether they were civilian or military.

It also showed some of the wounded in hospital – again, all men. One of them expressed his support for the Libyan leader.

Gaddafi’s TV channel would have better served Gaddafi by showing women and children injured by explosions and shrapnel. So why didn’t he show them?

Because they don’t exist, or they exist in very small numbers. Blatant use of human shields would destroy what support Gaddafi has left in Tripoli. There are, no doubt, masses of injured women and children in Tripoli hospitals – but all showing bullet wounds. People in Tripoli injured by bullet wounds, officially, don’t exist. They also cannot be made to look like victims of NATO Airstrikes.

What types of areas are likely only to have only men present, and no women or children? Not Mosques. Not the marketplace. Not the Schools. If you guessed troops and military installations, you would be correct.

Anti Aircraft gun in Tripoli, last night:
Troops manning an anti-aircraft gun in the middle of the night.
(Image Credit: Al Jazeera)

Though the men pictured are legitimate military targets, there is no reason to assume that these individual government troops are bad people. If ordered to force women and children to remain in the vicinity, they may just refuse. Scores of Libyan government soldiers have already been executed for refusing similar orders, and the risk Gaddafi assumes by widespread use of blatant human shields is that Gaddafi may have to execute more troops that are trained in operating AA guns and surface to air missile systems. Clearly, he needs to be more subtle.

Just today, however, one of Gaddafi’s residences was destroyed by NATO attacks. Unfortunately, Gaddafi may have realized his error and populated his various residences and publicly known command and control centers with women and children under the auspices of a “gift to his loyal people” or with offers of “protection & a hot meal”. Gaddafi, of course, isn’t home – he’s in a bunker. Gaddafi now has, however, some women and children with shrapnel and explosion wounds to show to the cameras.

That being said, I hope my analysis and conjecture are both wrong.

Gaddafi Forgot The Human Shields

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