So let’s assume that Col. Qaddafi’s mouthpiece has the basic facts right, and NATO airstrikes did indeed kill three of the ruler’s young grandchildren today. Predictably, the Russians–having abstainted from the vote authorizing the use of force by the coalition–condemned the action as “disproportionate.”
Military ethics is murky territory, and matters of proportionality seem particularly vexing in this even murkier conflict. A people rise up against a megalomaniacal tyrant; the tyrant responds with brutal force; the global community attempts to counter with force of its own–force which has other “proportionality” issues relative to that which has been applied in neighboring uprisings.
But what is most striking to me about all of this is how quickly the humanity gets sucked out of the whole discussion. Again, taking the reports at face value, three innocent little kids got bombed to death. They didn’t get to choose their grandfather any more than any of the rest of us did. It’s heartbreaking. And there’s nowhere in the “public square” to express that.