Friday, 1 April 2011

Fool Me Once...

The disaster that became known as the Iraq War can largely be put down to poor planning rather than poor intentions. The war against Gaddafi could soon be thought of in the same terms if intentions aren't quickly decided upon and planning quickly implemented.

My own view on Libya was that whatever the political views of the rebels there was no justice in allowing them to be bombed by a vicious dictator. This meant that for ethical reasons alone it made sense to enforce a No Fly Zone. There still remains however many on the 'isolationist right' who cannot accept the realities of a globalised world and the implications this has for Britain. It is not the case that only by intervening we create enemies as the Lockerbie Bombing should have made clearer to people like Peter Hitchens. While we do not have the financial ability to intervene in all unstable nations whose geographical and economic ties make them part of our geo-political strategy, we can set a precedent and set a strong message to others by setting an example and intervening in just one. The same idiots like Ken Livingstone on Question Time who ask why we don't invade Saudi Arabia and Bahrain clearly would not support us if we invaded the long list of dictatorships that they provide for us, and should be quite capable of understanding that stopping Gaddafi should at least make the nearby dictatorships think twice.

It is quite clear that we cannot tolerate a madman behaving as he did on the borders of Europe, but in order for any intervention to be effective; objectives and strategy will have to be very quickly established. My initial support was for a No Fly Zone that would simply stop the bombing of civilians. The mission appears to be quickly slipping from a neutral enforcement of a conduct of war to taking the side of the rebels and the intention of full regime change. This at first glance would appear to be a mistake. We do not know anything about the rebels other than that they oppose the idea of being bombed by their own leader. While they are all united by what they do not want at the moment that offers no clues as to what they will be like once Gaddafi is removed and as the funding of the Mujahdeen during the Soviet Invasion of Aghanistan showed, the support will not necessarily be reciprocated once they are in charge. While there are undoubtedly many in Libya who hate Gaddafi and would welcome his removal there appears to be many more that also support his reign that were overlooked in Cameron's rush to be doing something. The intervention in 'Muslim' lands that resulted in regime change with many left resentful fits perfectly into the leftie's 'Blowback' thesis and could potentially become another entry in the long list of 'Muslim grievances', meaning that any intervention should be carefully thought out.

Of course there is a flip-side to this. What if in fact many of the rebels oppose Islamism and many of Gaddafi's funding of terror and could instead be a bulwark against Islamism? More importantly what could be the consequences and lasting impression of those rebels if the West had stood back and done nothing? There is certainly a reasonable case for war to be made but it must be thought out and careful. In all fairness to Cameron and Obama this situation was quickly forced on them rather than the other way around and they were slow enough to act to begin with and as such we can forgive a slight delay in a fully formed plan. But the sudden flip-flopping from Cameron on foreign policy since coming in to office and the lack of a clear directive in the war suggests there are many reasons to be concerned at the moment.

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  2. By Cameron's flip-flopping I was more referring to his 'no neocon adventures', 'no wars abroad', 'cutting the army' - first sign of trouble - 'alright chaps let's charge in and intervene'.

    Seems pretty clear that as with most other political topics he did not have a clear view on foreign policy and international relations, and hence was liable to change it the moment he got into office and something happened.

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