Comment on a report of the BBC Radio 4, the Today Programme,
Monday the 20th of June 2011, 7:50 GMT+1
Our world is statiscal and probabilistic since a while. If you play table tennis, for example, you may score the most beautiful point of a leg but, if you didn’t secure an advantage of, at least, +2 points over your opponent, because your play is not well settled enough, then you are not the winner of the leg. And what is the weight of your most beautiful point on the final run of the leg ? None. That’s all.
Ghardabiya Airfield – Damaged Aircraft Shelters – Operation Odyssey Dawn (source : By U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Once we entered this world of measures, once we measure scores, each individual action or strike becomes relative to the weight of the whole series or “campaign”. That’s the message of this “failure”. For the Libyan family as a whole, given that all members perished in the strike, that’s the drama of their life. For the NATO’s authorities, just a tiny tiny proportion of noise in an overly carefully managed campaign of operations. They did everything they could, respected the most demanding procedures but, it must happen. So, sorry, “we didn’t have the intention”, in other words “it’s not our policy” to target civilians. And, once again, if we compare what is comparable, their statistics are certainly much better than the ones of the campaign of strategic bombing led by Allied forces over occupied countries, like France, during WWII.
Strategic bombing (source : By Jerry J. Joswick, the only survivor of the 16 cameramen of the operation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
But, beyond this single case of reported technical failure which gives a rate of 1 to +11.500, the stats may be questioned for their own general meaning. +11.500 military targets reached and destroyed in 3 months in Libya means in fact +11.500 military targets carefully chosen and cartographied during a certain amount of time before these 3 months. In consequence, it means also +11.500 sites, buildings or facilities to replace, repair or reconstruct after the war with different contractors than those who supplied all this material with during the previous gouvernemental era. It, therefore, means an effort of reconstruction financed by credit paid by oil, according to the set of Libyan economic resources, exchangeable on the international markets. Doesn’t all this “meticulous” planification, this meticulously planned endeavour of demolition and reconstruction sound like “State-Building” ? It’s probably where reappear the “implied tasks” mentioned by Lord Richard Dannatt on the very same channel, the 4th of June 2011 in his debate with the British Labour MP Graham Allen over Apaches ‘increase pressure on Gaddafi‘ (BBC Radio 4, the Today Programme, Saturday the 4th of June.
Cover picture : RAF Tornado GR4 targeting Libyan tank, 12 April (text : Wikipedia)
(source : Photo: MoD/MOD [OGL (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/1/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)