Objections to the lack of public debate, to NATO’s tendency to reach for the gun before exhausting all alternatives to the use of armed force, to the ambitious pursuit of goals well beyond those authorized by the UN Security Council, and to the near complete incoherence of Western policy in the region seem well-founded. Quite apart from the unknown number of people killed during the rebellion, respect for international law and for the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect have been among the more notable casualties.
The broader concern is that for NATO participants, policy has become an instrument of war. But that, and a host of other issues remain unaddressed. With Gadhafi’s execution, these kinds of considerations have by and large been lost in the orgy of triumphalism and self-congratulation.