This was the phrase used by the president in his speech justifying a war he had already started. I wonder if by that he meant the inhabitants of Surt:
Fresh intelligence this week showed that Libyan government forces were supplying assault rifles to civilians in the town of Surt, which is populated largely by Qaddafi loyalists. These civilian Qaddafi sympathizers were seen chasing rebel forces in nonmilitary vehicles like sedans and trucks, accompanied by Libyan troops, according to American military officers.
And that's why NATO is now policing a civil war in which it is almost impossible to tell who is a civilian and who isn't, who is a rebel and who isn't, and which pick-up trucks are Qaddafi's and which ones are the rebels'. For these reasons, arming the rebels is a total crap shoot. On what grounds do the people of the United States have a reason to arm one side in a civil war, when we have no idea who they are? Doesn't the fact that NATO has already warned them not to attack "civilians" tell you something?
I remember Iraq when we spent months not believing there was an insurgency. How could the Iraqi people defend the dictator who oppressed them? It didn't compute. And then we realized things were not quite as simple as Bill Kristol and Paul Wolfowitz had told us - and we are still there ten years and a trillion dollars later.
This is a dumb war, Mr President. And you are supposed to be against those. Remember?