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NATO's Libya mission ends. Was it a success?

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"All the while, Nato leaders and cheerleading media have turned a blind eye to such horrors as they boast of a triumph of freedom and murmur about the need for restraint. But it is now absolutely clear that, if the purpose of western intervention in Libya's civil war was to "protect civilians" and save lives, it has been a catastrophic failure. David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy won the authorisation to use "all necessary means" from the UN security council in March on the basis that Gaddafi's forces were about to commit a Srebrenica-style massacre in Benghazi. Naturally we can never know what would have happened without Nato's intervention. But there is in fact no evidence – including from other rebel-held towns Gaddafi re-captured – to suggest he had either the capability or even the intention to carry out such an atrocity against an armed city of 700,000."

What would have happened in Benghazi if NATO hadn't intervened is unknowable – that is undoubtedly true. But Mr. Milne shouldn't doubt that Qaddafi had the capacity to sack the town. I was in Benghazi on the morning NATO took decisive action. His tanks and trained infantry were moving into the city, the lightly armed rebel defenders were in a panic, and the civilian population was fleeing to the west. I'm firmly convinced that Benghazi, where the revolution began, would have fallen if French jets hadn't torn apart Qaddafi's armor advancing on town.

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