A Civil War

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From Jon Lee Anderson's latest Libya dispatch:

In front of another tank, a man fiddled with a camera and asked me to take his picture with his elderly father, who seemed overcome with emotion, and suddenly lifted both hands in a “V for victory” sign. Men wandered up to me to ask my nationality: “French, American?” and shaking my hand happily, shyly, expressing their gratitude to the West and their outrage at Qaddafi, and their humiliation, too. “Qaddafi, you know, he’s not normal,” Libyans often say in an ashamed way, as if trying to fathom the man who has dominated their lives for more than forty years and who is now sending bombs and planes and tanks against them. “What does he think, that we will somehow forgive him and agree to live with him again, after this?”

The underlying question is whether the pro-Qaddafi forces are entirely mercenary or whether they are genuine. The same question applies to the pro-Qaddafi crowds in Tripoli. Pure propaganda? Paid stooges? Or brainwashed enthusiasts? Wilkinson encourages plain language:

It seems to me obviously correct to characterise the military conflict between Libyan factions as a "civil war", and thus to characterise the actions of the Americans, French, and British, which target the Libyan state's air defences, as "taking sides in a civil war". 

(Photo: Libyan rebels duck for cover behind a sand dune during a failed attempt to take the town of Ajdabiya from Moammer Khaddafi's forces on March 21, 2011 as news reports said Libyan government forces pulled back 60 miles from rebel-held Benghazi but showed they still had plenty of fight as they beat off an insurgent advance. By Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

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