When the protests in Libya began over a month ago, everyone hoped it would be a peaceful transition. That dream quickly fell by the wayside. It became clear that Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi wasn't going to step down quietly, but when the Libyan rebels made broad and early gains across the region, we all hoped that the Qaddafi problem would be handled internally. His back was against the wall, and his support was isolated to Tripoli - the capital - and Sirte - his home town. But Qaddafi rallied, and back the rebels to their stronghold of Benghazi. At this point, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that allows member nations "to take all necessary measures ... to protect [Libyan] civilians and civilian populations under threat of attack ..., while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory." Essentially, the U.N. allows for coalition forces to protect "civilians and civilian populations" from attack by Qaddafi and his military.
So here's the rub - early on, the Western World made repeated calls for Qaddafi to step down, arguing that his time had come and that it was no longer the will of the people for him to lead the country. When that didn't work, the Western World went to the U.N. and got permission to defend "civilians" ... but the way their defining "civilians" is basically parsing words.
In the case of Libya, a civilian is anyone who isn't fighting for Qaddafi. Now, I'm not arguing that Qaddafi should stay - I think he's a problem and he needs to go. But when we call the rebel forces "civilians", we're picking sides. If we're going to work to push Qaddafi out, then we should be more honest about it. No one is fooled when we call the armed rebel forces "civilians" - they're a poorly funded, poorly trained militia. It's clearly in the interest of the Western World Coalition to get rid of Qaddafi. We should stop masquerading as defenders of liberty and admit our bias.