The question of whether Gaddafi is a target for airstrikes has hung over the Libya campaign. The convoluted explanations from ministers can appear dry and legalistic. That’s because they are. But it is worth imagining the terrible indigestion this causes Foreign Office lawyers.
The problems started the moment General Sir David Richards said the Colonel was “absolutely not” a target under the UN resolution.
Since then, there have been strikes on command and control facilities in Tripoli. In public ministers have been opening up a bit, offering a slightly less legalistic response to questions. Take this quote from Liam Fox from an interview on the PBS NewsHour on Tuesday:
“If you look at it from Gadhafi’s point of view, [this] has been something happening at arm’s length, something happening in Misurata, something happening in Ajdabiya or out towards Benghazi.
What we’ve seen in recent days [is] attacks on Tripoli to increase the psychological pressure, apart from anything else, on Gadhafi, to make him realize that this is something that he is involved in.”