101 days in, Libya rebels say NATO is too slow
The rebels and NATO are claiming some progress on their road to Tripoli but critics say the coalition is still moving too slowly.
To the south of the capital, rebel fighters are trying to move and take over the east/west supply route to Tripoli. If they're able to do that and cut off supplies, it would bring tremendous pressure on the regime of Muammar Qaddafi.
But the rebels are still stalled to the east in Misrata, complaining NATO doesn't coordinate air strikes to provide adequate air cover so they can punch through Qaddafi's forces and move towards Tripoli, reports CBS News correspondent Dana Lewis.
Critics say progress has been painstakingly slow - 101 days into NATO's mission to force the Qaddafi regime to put down its arms - and that NATO is under-equipped and sluggish. It has launched only one-third the number of sorties over Libya compared to a similar time frame when NATO attacked Kosovo in 1999 to push out the Serbs.
NATO says it has to be careful attacking pro-Qaddafi forces hiding in civilian areas.
Qaddafi's regime now says it has more than a million people armed and ready to fight NATO. But off-camera, reports Lewis from Tripoli, people say Qaddafi has got to go, and express frustration: Why is NATO taking so long?
And efforts to now pursue Qaddafi as a war criminal through the International Criminal Court at the Hague (which today issued arrest warrants for him and two other high-ranking Libyan officials, for war crimes and crimes against humanity) may complicate offers for him to flee the country and live in exile.
Former Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin (now executive editor of Bloomberg View) told CBS' "The Early Show" that trying to arrest Qaddafi for war crimes will complicate the conflict further:
"The issuing of an arrest warrant actually makes it less likely that you can have a diplomatic outcome, because there's no country that Qaddafi's going to feel safe going to, knowing that there's an arrest warrant," Rubin told "Early Show" anchor Chris Wragge. "So we have these two things running against each other: The desire to kind of figure a way out for Qaddafi, so we end the conflict, [and] on the other hand the international legal process, which makes that even harder."
Rubin said that in order for the push against Qaddafi to succeed, the United States must get more involved.
"Remember, Qaddafi was responsible for international terrorism. He was responsible for building a real nuclear weapons capability, that he gave up under the Bush administration, so this is a dangerous man," Rubin said. "Having prodded this lion, having poked him, you're going to have to finish it off. So the U.S., rather than pursuing a rather half-hearted effort - we're supporting the British and French, essentially - we're going to have to get more involved."
"Is this now the time where NATO and the U.S. need to step up their efforts and move in and finish this once and for all?" asked Wragge.
"Once we've decided to use air power alone, rather than ground troops - and that's a perfectly logical decision by the president - we have to be patient," replied Rubin. "Air power doesn't work like ground troops the way we, say in the first Gulf War, just took over the Iraqi forces and threw them out of Kuwait in a few days. Air power is slower. But if you want to succeed here, having started this, I think there probably is a way for the United States to get involved from the front, rather than just supporting the British and the French, and that means more U.S. aircraft, more U.S. missiles and directing the fire much more carefully."
"When we use words like 'finish off' and 'succeed,' is that code for 'kill Qaddafi'?" Wragge asked. "Is that what needs to be done?"
"I don't know whether it's us doing it or someone around him doing it," said Rubin. "It's pretty clear to me at least he's not leaving Tripoli - partly because he's afraid of getting arrested if he goes somewhere else, and partly because he's Qaddafi. So ultimately whether it's the rebels, whether it's somebody around him, or whether it's an American or British or French bomb, I think this is going to end with Qaddafi dead."
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