Libya: Between a rock and a hard place?
It’s abundantly clear to us, from following people in Libya who are — possibly at great personal risk — tweeting about their predicament and encouraging greater intervention from NATO, that there are plenty who would rather see more action from coalition forces rather than less. This is a view we sympathise with: trapped in extremely dangerous circumstances, who wouldn’t want relief and the hope of freedom from the constant threat of death or injury? We’re also aware that the situation is very sensitive: if we advocate the cessation of military action against Gaddafi, do we appear to be encouraging the abandonment of Libya’s people to his wrath?
The question we keep asking ourselves, however, is whether all the guns and airstrikes in the world can possibly have any positive effect. We note that at least one senior French official is now pushing for the deployment of commandos in Libya. So, a mission that supposedly began with the sole objective of preventing civilian casualties and then morphed into a determined effort to unseat Gaddafi has now reached a point where sending in ground troops is being mooted as a serious option. Meanwhile, peace and stability appear further away now than they were a month ago.
Where will it end? Where is the evidence that air strikes are doing more than inflaming Gaddafi and entrenching conflict? Where is the exit strategy that ensures we are not heading into another lengthy and costly overseas conflict a la Iraq and Afghanistan? Where is the reassurance that the well-being of the Libyan populace is really the primary motivation behind continued military presence in the region? More poignantly, both for the UK and for Libyans depending upon us to provide them with a lifeline, how do we expect to maintain the financing — and public support — necessary to wage yet another foreign war while we’re repeatedly told that there is no money for schools, health services, and councils in our own country?
Sad though it is to say, we suspect that intervention in Libya is based as much upon an outdated perception of the UK as a global force as it is upon any sane and measured assessment of whether we can effect any good in the region. We feel deeply for the people of Libya, and yet we question whether the guns and aeroplanes of NATO can save them.
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