Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Libya

In my mind there can be no doubt that the current intervention in Libya is not only right, but vital.

I have listened to a great deal of TV and radio over the last week, and am getting fed up with people saying, 'What about Bahrain? What about Saudi Arabia? What's special about Libya? It's all about oil, innit?'

I find such thinking amazingly flawed. Why would France, Britain and the US want to treat Libya differently from those other countries? The answer is both easy and sobering:
Libya has admitted responsibility for all of these events, and paid compensation. They are not in dispute. In addition:
  • Britain remembers that Libya funded and armed the IRA (an unquantifiable number of dead)
  • Spain remembers that Libya funded and armed ETA (an unquantifiable number of dead)
  • Africa remembers the Chad-Libya conflict (8,500 dead)
Gadaffi has repeatedly sponsored terrorism and wars in the past. This marks the difference between the situation in Libya and all of the other countries mentioned: the leader has killed thousands of people, and sponsored terrorism and wars both within and without his borders. There can be no doubt that, if we did not intervene, he would kill those within Libya who are against him. His troops were preparing to attack Benghazi - a city of one million people - as the air attack was launched.

Vengeance is wrong. However, last week we had two choices: we could stand back and do nothing, or help those who want a freer and hopefully fairer Libya. Doing the first and allowing Gadaffi's troops to kill and maim unaided is unthinkable.

I supported the previous government's attempts to bring Libya back in from the cold; it was the right thing to do. Normalisation of relations made it less likely for Gadaffi to attempt similar atrocities. I did not - and do not - support the release of the Lockerbie bomber. The best solution there would have been for his appeal to go ahead.

This does not address the end-game. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 specifically does not allow regime change. It does, however, allow wide action to protect civilian lives. A potential solution is for loyalist troops to leave the immediate areas around the rebel towns that they have attacked over the last few weeks - for instance Misrata, Ajdabiya and Zawiya.

This could lead to a ceasefire could lead either to a split in the country, or alternatively encourage his lackeys to overthrow a weakened Gadaffi. A split in the country could possibly be unstable - who would get the oilfields? - and lead to further conflict.

One thing is certain: the end-game is firmly in Libyan hands. Resolution 1973 does not allow for an invasion, and it is doubtful whether any of the combatants would want to get involved in another painful ground war.

As for Gadaffi: tyrants should realise that countries of honour have long memories. We in the west should realise that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq also have long memories. Hopefully doing the right thing in Libya - as we are - may undo some of the harm that has been caused over the last ten years.

1 comment:

The Odyssee said...

It would be nice if some country would come and bail us out for a change.
While this country is in such a mess i couldn't give a jot about any other country, politically that is. (natural disasters not included)
We aid all countries who have oil, that's a fact and neglect so much at home. But we'll manage.
Maybe some body here can stand up in similar fashion to the brave "Rebels" and get rid of ALL our party's and start again with a clean sheet.