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Moammar Kadafi and a double effect

Are the United States and its allies trying to assassinate Moammar Kadafi? The official response is no, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the other day that Kadafi remaining in power is "certainly, potentially, one outcome."

But the bombing of one of Kadafi's compounds raises questions about a possible ulterior motive in the campaign. Yet no such motive is necessary. In a variation of the philosophical doctrine of the double effect, the United States may, by pursuing the good end of neutralizing Libyan command and control, achieve the "bad" end of killing Kadafi, and without intending it.

But politicians, not philosophers, are in charge of this campaign. It's likely that killing Kadafi lurks just below the surface of the insistence that the campaign is completely about protecting civilians.

RELATED:

Libya: It's not our fight

Doyle McManus: Letting others lead in Libya

The Libya tightrope

No-fly zone: Putting a leash on Kadafi

War, what is it meant for?

-- Michael McGough

 

Comments () | Archives (2)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Bob

It amazes me that people in the United States do not understand what a "compound" is - IT'S NOT A HOUSE! That comp0ound has military administration buildings and air defense positions. Of course they are targets.

Bob

Then again, the "news media" makes a concerted effort to give incomplete information in order to sensationalize an otherwise mundane story.


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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