Nick Clegg lays down five principles of intervention – but doesn’t explain the Ivory Coast

In a major foreign policy speech in Mexico this week, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg laid out five reasons why intervention in Libya was the right course to take and different from Iraq. However, applying those five reasons to the Ivory Coast raises the question why it is being treated so differently from Libya.

In his speech, Clegg said that Libya different from Iraq because:

First, the Libyan action is unambiguously legal. Iraq was not.

Second, there is a clear humanitarian case for intervention in Libya. In Iraq the case rested solely on the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, a case which turned out to be illusory.

Third, the Libyan action has strong support in the region, not least from the Arab League. For Iraq there was strong opposition from many neighbouring countries.

Fourth, there is today a strong emphasis on post-conflict stabilisation and aid, led by the UN – compared to the chaotic aftermath of Iraq.

Fifth, the military action in Libya is taking place within strict constraints and with clear aims, compared to the all-encompassing military action in Iraq in 2003.

As reasons for treating Iraq and Libya different, it is a pretty good list – especially when you remember that the Liberal Democrats have traditionally been willing to argue in favour of military intervention, most notably in the Balkans but also supporting it in places such as Sierra Leone.

However, apply those five tests to the Ivory Coast and it is not at all clear why Britain pushed for intervention in Libya in a way it has conspicuously failed to do for the Ivory Coast, despite the UN estimating that up to a million people have fled and the UN warning that war crimes may have been committed.

On Nick Clegg’s first and second points, there is already a limited UN force in the Ivory Coast and a draft UN resolution to strengthen its mandate was tabled last week. The combination of widespread inhumanity and feared war crimes provide strong grounds for supporting the new UN resolution. If it were to be passed, the legal and humanitarian cases for further action in the Ivory Coast would be at least as strong as in Libya.

On his third point, neighbouring countries in West Africa are calling for stronger UN action, partly because of fears that a refugee crisis may cause violent unrest in neighbouring countries. This is an intervention that would be welcomed in the region, not one that would be opposed.

On Clegg’s fourth and fifth points, if the international community chooses there can be an emphasis on the post-conflict state of the Ivory Coast and, given the presence of a democratically elected President who has been kept out of office by force, there is a clearer route to a stable and democratic country than there is in Libya. In neither country is it straight-forward or likely to be easy, but if the difficulties are not reasons to hold off in Libya (and I don’t think they are), then they are certainly not reasons to hold off in the Ivory Coast.

So the difference amounts to the lack, so far, of a further UN resolution in the Ivory Coast – and as a permanent member of the Security Council, that is something the UK could be pushing for. Based on Nick Clegg’s five tests, the hundreds of deaths and the hundreds of thousands of refugees, it should be doing just that.

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40 Comments

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 9:52am

    Of course all of the criteria could have been met at earlier dates when Saddam was gassing Kurds and poisoning Marsh Arabs, invading Iran and using WMDs in that war, forcing 4m Iraquis out of the country etc.- but where was the inyervention then to stop Saddam continuing as a serial offender. As you point out with the Cote d’Ivoire there do appear to a number of unwritten criteria that are applied as well – and as usual with Nick Clegg different criteria are applicable according to whether or not he is in government. But at least he does at last appear to recognise there is some role for liberal interventionism – although some in his party have argued quite recently that the concept should be abandoned.

    As for his comment about Blair’s liberal vigilantism – doesn’t he know that the price of liberty is eternal vigilence?

    And no before the idiots start I do see liberal interventionism as automatically requiring regime change and full scale invasion – act early in a more graduated and directed manner then such last resorts may be avoidable.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 9:55am

    I would be interested to know how Clegg believes the fourth criteria is to be met in respect of Libya – could there really be stability post conflict if Ghadaffi remains in place and has control of the army and the police:?

  • ‘First, the Libyan action is unambiguously legal. Iraq was not.’

    Perhaps, but there seems to be an awful lot of ambiguity about what is and is not covered. And for that matter I still don’t know why decisions on war are necessarily right just because they come from the UN.

    ‘Second, there is a clear humanitarian case for intervention in Libya. In Iraq the case rested solely on the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, a case which turned out to be illusory.’

    The humanitarian case in Libya is flimsy at best. Is this saying that if Blair and Bush had said, ‘Intervention in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons and the well documented abuses in that country are evidence enough,’ that would have been OK? Of course not – Iraq was wrong, and would have been even if there had been WMD. Libya is none of our business and is also wrong.

    ‘Third, the Libyan action has strong support in the region, not least from the Arab League. For Iraq there was strong opposition from many neighbouring countries.’

    The Arab League (insofar as they represent anyone) wobbled within six hours. And I don’t see why the views of neighbouring countries make anything inherently right or wrong.

    ‘Fourth, there is today a strong emphasis on post-conflict stabilisation and aid, led by the UN – compared to the chaotic aftermath of Iraq.’

    Sorry – where is this emphasis in Libya? We don’t have the first clue about actual conflict, never mind post-conflict. Libya has Iraq mark 2 written all over it – I would wager that the UN will not be welcomed in the Gaddafi-supporting parts.

    ‘Fifth, the military action in Libya is taking place within strict constraints and with clear aims, compared to the all-encompassing military action in Iraq in 2003.’

    Which Libyan conflict is Nick talking about here? Not the one I’m watching. In any case, this is a conflict, there are no constraints. My guess it that escalation is inevitable.

    What should happen with the Ivory Coast is what should have happened with Libya. The countries in the region can sort it out for themselves. It is not as if the region is short of arms spend. The West does not hold the solution to every ill in the world.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 10:33am

    Duncan

    And of course we should have let the countries in the region take care of itself when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union split up Poland so as to defend what they saw as their own interests. And all those who went to Spain to defend it against Franco should have kept their noses out of someone else’s business.

    So at what stage does international intervention in order to defend human rights and democracy become legitimate? Or should the abusers be tolerated/appeased for ever? What principles would you follow? Can we presume that you do not support the UNCHR?

  • @toryboysnevergrowup – you seem to wilfully mis-understand of mis-represent Clegg’s views.

    a) I do not know, nether do you, what Clegg’s views about intervention around the earlier Iraq/Iran war was. But that was a very different timescale to the second Iraq War which was illegal. So your comment re ‘why was there no action then’ are perhaps mis-placed.

    b) To be a ‘vigiliante’ which is what Blair was, taking the law into your own hands, is very different from being ‘vigilant’. They mean different things and point one of this doctrine accepts the need for legal and international backing.

    c) You’ll note that intervention in Afghanistan and Kosovo has been supported. Therefore, the claims that Clegg does ‘at last appear to recognise there is some role for liberal interventionism’ is a mis-interpretation or mis-understanding of past events.

    d) You are right about stability potentially being achieved by Gaddaffi remaining, but the point Clegg clearly makes is that each of these are necessary, but only together are they sufficient for action. Thus to take a single factor out of context is an irrelevance.

    @Duncan, I do not think the humanitarian reasons are flimsy in Libya. The airstrikes stopped an armoured convoy just before it reached Benghazi. They would have killed many people – the action stopped that. You’re right about legality though, it is a difficult and ambiguous term.

    @Mark – Your claim that there is a desire for ‘stronger UN action’ may be accurate, but we don’t know yet what form this will take given the non-intervention doctrine of the AU. Of course the 6th point in all of this is – can we do it? Really, can we sensible deposit forces in a particular location? Do we have the resources to send a fleet round to the Ivory Coast?

  • Philip Rolle 31st Mar '11 - 12:17pm

    Talk of “legal” wars is one of the biggest red herrings of modern times.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 12:41pm

    Henry

    It is funny that it is only now that Clegg starts to expound a set of principles for liberal interventionism? I’ve searched in vain for an ealier exposition.

    The point about Iraq was just to indicate that earlier “liberal interventionism” in that case may have prevented the later problems – there is a linkage between the two it is called Saddam. As for Clegg’s views at the time that is an irrelevance given that we was just a student Tory whose fees were being paid by the taxpayers.

    Yes – I know the modern meaning of vigilante – but I was trying to make a deeper point about how the definition may have been somewhat different in times when the legal framework was not certain (such as with international law to day many would argue!) given that both words clearly have the same source. I don’t think that Jefforson saw vigilance as just amounting to watching was happening and doing little to change the situation.

  • Geoffrey Payne – If you look at the TV pictures, you will see an awful lot of Kalashnikovs out in Libya. I don’t think they were sold by, ‘the west.’ Those tanks also look Soviet-era.

    Henry/toryboysnevergrowup – Another way of looking at Benghazi is that it is a city that has been taken over by a group of armed militia. I think that it would be stretching the definition of, ‘civilian,’ a very long way to apply it to the Libyan rebels. This is why legality is a real red-herring for me. Complex, fluid situations as in Libya simply can not be captured by law. These are profoundly political and, I suppose, moral decisions.

    It is not a clean line. With Franco, at the very least Spain in 1936 was in a CIVIL war. With Nazi Germany (and, seriously, comparing Libya to Nazi Germany – come on), events were European. That is one difference. It is telling that the one moral equivalence that no one seems to want to draw is China and Tibet.

    Libya is an African and Arab problem – there is no argument for Western intervention.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 2:05pm

    Duncan

    “It is telling that the one moral equivalence that no one seems to want to draw is China and Tibet”

    Or Russia and Chechyna for that matter – there is clearly an unwritten and overiding principle that you have to be able to help in the first place, unless you believe in gesture politics.

    The Poland argument is not very convincing – so its ok to get involved if the other party crosses some threshold of nastiness ( and remember that in 1939 the full extent of this was not generally known) and is on the same continent?

    Spain a CIVIL war – I don’t think anyone told the German and Italian bombers however!

    If Benghazi was taken over by an armed militia (rather than just civilians being influenced by the events in Egypt and Tunisia) all I can say is that they were not a very good one and you should be able to produce some evidence that they were the first to use significant force.

  • ‘Or Russia and Chechyna for that matter – there is clearly an unwritten and overiding principle that you have to be able to help in the first place, unless you believe in gesture politics.’

    So the humanitarian principle comes where in this? Is humanitarianism of a different quality in Chechnya than in selected parts of Libya?

    ‘The Poland argument is not very convincing – so its ok to get involved if the other party crosses some threshold of nastiness ( and remember that in 1939 the full extent of this was not generally known) and is on the same continent?’

    This threshold you are talking about is not a million miles away from what has happened in Libya. Though Gaddafi talked about nastiness as much as anything. That being said, that Nazi Germany is being drawn into this at all speaks to a gross lack of nuance.

    ‘Spain a CIVIL war – I don’t think anyone told the German and Italian bombers however!’

    True enough. But Spain was not internationalised in the way that the Coalition has internationalised Libya.

    ‘If Benghazi was taken over by an armed militia (rather than just civilians being influenced by the events in Egypt and Tunisia) all I can say is that they were not a very good one and you should be able to produce some evidence that they were the first to use significant force.’

    Sorry, I don’t think I really understand this. Are you saying that the Libyan rebels are, ‘civilians.’ Certainly they claimed to have taken control of cities. What is your end-point here, that states can not use force – I don’t think that is what you are saying, but if so it is an extraordinary claim.

    A far better argument (and I’m surprised you have not made it) is that Gaddafi is totally free from the pressures of democracy in his polity. That what he is doing flies in the face of the principles of representation. That’s a better claim but even allowing for that I still see this as no business of the west.

  • If we are in Libya to protect civilians are we going to protect Gadhafi’s civilians that are killed when the rebels, heavily armed by the West, enter Tripoli? Or are Gadhafi’s civilians fair game because they are of his tribe or are his supporters? I support intervention in Libya but only to the point of creating a demilitarised zone around Bengazi to protect the civilians there. I think that’s what most people in Britain thought was the extent of the UN resolution.
    Only ten months in office and the Liberal Democrats are leading us into another war. And after everything Ming Campbell, Charles Kennedy et al said about Iraq. A disgrace.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 2:51pm

    Duncan

    Just because humanitarians are not able to have an impact in Chechenya or Tibet – it doesn’t mean that they should try to have an impact where they can.

    Nazi Germany was only brought into this to demonstrate that there were circumstances in which you would be prepared to relax your original principles – where the switchover occurs is something that you need to justify not me – I am happy with the action being taken in Libya.

    I think you will find that Gadaffi also internationalised the conflict – with foreign arms, mercenaries and “security” equipment.

    On Benghazi – all I’m saying is that it was the civilians who took over ( so as to assert rights that they would normally be entitled to in a democracy) and then had to arm themselves for protection from Gadaffi’s thugs and army – they didn’t take over as an “armed militia” as you asserted. They had considerably more legitimacy to behave as they did than would normally be attributed to an “armed militia” taking over.

    You are right that it is not the business of the west – it is the business of anyone who wants to be considered a humanitarian or liberal for that matter. I was never aware that “liberalism” stood behind “nationalism” or continentalism” as you infer.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 3:01pm

    One other point that Clegg made was “multilateralism” was better than “bilateralism”. Given that Libya is the exception rather than the rule where the UN has been able to do something that may be effective – compared with its many pathetic failures elsewhere (Darfur, Rwanda, former Yugoslavia etc etc.) perhaps some thought should now be given as to how the UN could be made a more effective body e.g. is now the time to remove the Security Council veto, change its membership, give the UN a standing peacekeeping force, actually develop some principles for intervention in support of human rights???

  • ‘Just because humanitarians are not able to have an impact in Chechenya or Tibet – it doesn’t mean that they should try to have an impact where they can.’

    True I suppose – though of no consolation if you happen to live in Georgia or Tibet.

    ‘Nazi Germany was only brought into this to demonstrate that there were circumstances in which you would be prepared to relax your original principles – where the switchover occurs is something that you need to justify not me – I am happy with the action being taken in Libya.’

    Again, true, I believe that Libya was a political decision and it is one that has been made. I can of course, register my unhappiness at the ballot box. I, of course never claimed an absolute oppostion to military action – just that Libya is not such a situation.

    ‘I think you will find that Gadaffi also internationalised the conflict – with foreign arms, mercenaries and “security” equipment.’

    I think you know that this is a stretch.

    ‘On Benghazi – all I’m saying is that it was the civilians who took over ( so as to assert rights that they would normally be entitled to in a democracy) and then had to arm themselves for protection from Gadaffi’s thugs and army – they didn’t take over as an “armed militia” as you asserted. They had considerably more legitimacy to behave as they did than would normally be attributed to an “armed militia” taking over.’

    Well – this is a better argument, I can’t deny that. My real concern though is why the west was dragged into what is plainly an African/Arab problem.

    ‘You are right that it is not the business of the west – it is the business of anyone who wants to be considered a humanitarian or liberal for that matter. I was never aware that “liberalism” stood behind “nationalism” or continentalism” as you infer.’

    It is not liberal to demand intervention in these circumstances.

  • The first point is where it all goes wrong for me…

    Libya is legal because China and Russia, two of the worst abusers of human rights since the UN came into existance, decided not to veto the resolution. It’s a pathetic yardstick when international law rides on the shoulders of such nations.

    If Russia or China had lucrative deals with Gaddaffi they would have vetoed, and then what would Clegg have done, let the innocents die or go without a resolution ?

  • @toryboysnevergrowup – some of the points you make I agree with (v. interesting points re the UN for instance), but your dismissiveness of Clegg and your partisan comments make valuable discourse really difficult to engage with.

    I think the discussion about liberal interventionism must be had in the context of broad international support for the Libyan action and previous Kosovo and Afghanistant action – supported, I believe, by Clegg [though I am honestly not 100% sure]. This is certainly not a ‘new’ move by Clegg or Liberal Democrats, but a different Liberal Intervention to that expressed by Blair, which was pretty much: ‘I want to invade Iraq, I will do so regardless of a clear and present UN mandate’. In so doing, and lacking regional support, he severely dented our capabilities as a peacekeeper.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 6:27pm

    Henry

    I do think that this a genuinely new move by the LIbDems to try and develop somthing of a framework for liberal interventionism and as such is no bad thing, and your comments about Blair’s position demonstrate that you are not above partisan sniping yourself. Whatever you may wish to say about Blair he did try to do something similar in his Chicago speech in 1999 and David Milliband tried something similar in his Wilberforce lecture a couple of years ago. My guess is that it would not be particularly difficult to make a synthesis of the various views.

    Steve Way’s point about how legality is currently determined in “international law” is well worth considering – especially since Clegg is now talking about whether things as being “ambiguous legally” rather than being “illegal” as used to be his formal position – although this may well be not to embarass his coalition partners.

  • Henry – First thing to say is that although I think the Kosovo conflict was, on balance, right, it most certainly did not have widespread support. Russia in particular.

    Kosovo in fact shows the problem well. These terms, sovereignty, democracy, self-determination, human rights get thrown around as though they were some absolute. They are not, at best they are theoretical abstractions. They can not be optimised against each other, codified in international law and reified by a judiciary. One man’s self determination denies another man his sovereignty. As we may yet see in Libya one man’s democracy may well come at the expense of another’s human rights.

    These are political, not legal things. What were the Serbs or Gaddafi to make of the UN? There seemed to be this serious expectation that the Serbs would just say, ‘well, 700 years of history in Kosovo, a credible claim and Albanians stirring the situation, but the UN says we are wrong so we’ll just pack up and go home.’

    Whilst Clegg’s observations may have more or less validity they do not detract from the main problem. The word of the UN is not the word of God. It may confer a veneer of legitimacy – but that’s it. Even if we leave aside that the UN is about the least democratic body I can think of, why should countries defer sovereignty to the UN? Out of interest, if the UN had agreed to the Iraq conflict, would it have made the situation somehow more acceptable?

    There is no point seeking, ‘principles,’ because principles will not prevent complex, fluid conflicts. Principles can mean anything to anyone and outsourcing decisions on war may well make situations worse. At least I can comment on Libya at the ballot box. I can not make such comment on the UN, and neither can the citizens of Libya. Indeed, in the context of Kosovo there is evidence that at least one NATO and EU member actively sided with the Serbs.

    The politics can not be soaked out by some technocratic law or principles because conflicts are political – they don’t follow rules or fall into neat precedent. These are political decisions, whilst I respect Clegg’s interest in saying, ‘this is not Iraq,’ I’m afraid I can agree with neither his actions nor his approach.

  • Andrew Suffield 31st Mar '11 - 7:40pm

    2003 was legal because the government of the day acted upon legal advice that says it was legal, and it will remain a legal war until Parliament decides that it was not, in fact, legal.

    And not one second before.

    Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to make uninformed comments on web sites?

    There is no such thing as an “illegal war” from the perspective of the government that launches it. Nonetheless, the Nuremburg precedents are clear. Other nations have established a basis for declaring a war illegal despite the claims of the defendant, and for prosecuting those responsible. We are one of those nations and apply this principle to war criminals from other countries. There is no requirement for their own government to agree that it was an illegal war and they are war criminals, and there is no requirement for our government to do so with respect to any actions brought against its members by other nations.

    However, you’re wrong in a much more immediate sense. Parliament ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC in 2001, and it entered into force in 2002. This stipulates that Parliament accepts the authority of the ICC in deciding questions of the legality of wars, and hence the decision of whether the Iraq war is legal or not lies with the ICC (and to some extent the UN security council), not Parliament. Parliament has fully implemented this treaty and passed all applicable laws, so if a case is brought before the ICC then the relevant people are subject to arrest and surrender to the authority of the court.

  • Mack>If we are in Libya to protect civilians are we going to protect Gadhafi’s civilians that are killed when the rebels, heavily armed by the West, enter Tripoli?

    IF the rebels are ever armed by the West, you mean.
    And so far, I don’t see any Lib Dems ‘leading us into war’ in that direction.
    Cameron, Hague and Obama and Hillary Clinton ‘haven’t ruled out’ the idea. But they haven’t decided to do so either.
    They’d have to be really dull not to realise the risks involved.
    They simply haven’t a clue what to do next, I suspect.

    A decision to arm the rebels would have to be put before the UK parliament for approval.
    IF that happens and IF Lib Dems back it, then you’d have something to snipe about.

    Toryboy condemns Lib Dems for not intervening enough. You condemn Lib Dems for interfering too much (before anyone actually has).

    No pleasing Labour supporters, it seems.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 10:51pm

    Duncan

    I find it interesting that you yet again make the argument that there is no reason for sovereignty to be deferred to multilateral bodies,such as the UN,which were set up to defend what you call other “theoretical abstractions” such as democracy, self determination and human rights. I can accept your argument that all these concepts are open to interpretation, but even that is within generally broadly understood bands, and it is then largely a question of individual values as to which of the concepts you consider to be of greater importance. However, I don’t thing that “sovereignty” will typically take first place among those who consider themselves to be liberals. This is all very reminiscent of the “my country right or wrong” debates.

    PS you also seem to forget the argument that Kosovo already had a degree of sovereignty in Yugosalvia and before as an autonomous province – until of course it was taken away by Milosevic – just as he tried with most Yugoslav republics.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 11:09pm

    Cassie

    Where have I condemned LibDems for not intervening enough in Libya?? Those LibDems in Goverment (who are the only ones actually intervening) have just about got it right in my view at present. By argument is with LibDems, such as your self, who argue with the current intervention or for alternatives that are frankly unworkable – and have argued against “liberal interventionism” at the same time as Clegg has discovered (or rediscovered it).

    No one is arguing for arms to the rebels at the moment – although I think Obama has started the legislation clearing the way for such a move – they are all waiting to see if the initial softening up will lead to a collapse of the Gadaffi regime. This is a perfectly sensible approach – as opposed to taking firm views on what should and shouldn’t be the next steps without fulling knowing what the impact of the first steps have been. I don’t see any LibDems in Government taking a different view either.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 31st Mar '11 - 11:12pm

    Cassie

    You should also note that I do not have a habit of saying that the LibDems get things right while in Government – but this really is the exception that proves the rule.

  • >Where have I condemned LibDems for not intervening enough in Libya??

    >toryboysnevergrowup
    >Posted 29th March 2011 at 11:10 pm
    >but I actually think…..arming the rebels is worth considering the next step.

    You think it’s worth considering. Mack is lambasting us for doing it (not that anyone has).
    My post above was to point this out to him. Is all.

    You also said :
    >And no I don’t rule out regime change or invasions as valid forms of liberal interventionism

    Tho’ looking back to check your exact wording, I see it wasn’t directly referring to Libya. But that would be unacceptable to most Lib Dems – and I imagine to Mack – given that civilians would get killed in the cross-fire.

    He also want to establish a demilitarised zone round Bengazi, which means peacekeeping (by air or ground), which you reject as impossible.

    >No one is arguing for arms to the rebels at the moment…. they are all waiting to see if the initial softening up will lead to a collapse of the Gadaffi regime

    Tell that to Mack (which is all I was doing above), who thinks: “the Liberal Democrats are leading us into another war.”
    And having invented this ‘fact,’ used it to accuse us of hypocrisy.

    You might find this useful on Kosovo, btw:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/3550401.stm

    It shows you why Serbia thinks Kosovo belongs to it.
    I’m not offering an opinion on that. Nor, I think, was Duncan. Just pointing out to you that rightly or wrongly, Serbia believes it has a legitimate claim to Kosovo. In the same way Argentina claims the Falklands and Spain claims Gibraltar.

    Also of interest:
    http://kosovoholocaust.com/

  • @Cassie

    Cameron and Hague should have gone further than saying that they would not arm the rebels. They should have categorically ruled it out. The reason that the West is in Eastern Libya is precisely because the rebels are relatively unarmed and their civilians need our protection. The UN resolution does not empower us to invade Western Iraq.

    The reason I asserted that the Lib Dems are leading us into war is because the Lib Dems are in government and this government has been proactive in the dispute between the rebels and Gadaffi. I believe that the Tory leadership see this as their Falklands or Balkans moment and have dreams of being received in a grateful Tripoli by hordes of citizens delighted with their liberation by Cameron and the West. That’s what we were told by Tony Blair at the time of the invasion of Iraq and many of us believed it. The reality, however, was somewhat murkier and bloodier. There was no civil war action when we entered Iraq but we soon produced the conditions for one.
    In Libya, we would be entering in a civil war on the side of the rebels when we have a UN resolution that instructs us to protect all civilians. That means we might end up in the invidious position of protecting Gadffi’s civilians from the rebels whom we had armed!

    The reason I believe that the Lib Dems are leading us into war, despite having said everything they did on Iraq, is that they are, most unexpectedly cheek, by jowl with the Tories on so many issues and appear to be prepared to do anything to stay in their squalid coalition. And for that will even risk the charge of hypocrisy. That’s why until Clegg tells Cameron that he will never support the arming of the rebels or encourage a battle for Tripoli and wants us only to establish a safe haven around Bengazi, I will continue to believe that your party’s objective is war. And the real reason for the war will not be the protection of civilians but the recovery of oil company assets. I want to see Gaddafi gone. But I wanted to see Saddam Hussein gone too. Labour broke its back over Iraq and thousands of people were needlessly killed because we were too keen to rush for glory. We should make the area around Bengazi a safe haven amidst a demilitarised zone and use the opportunity to extend our influence in the region and establish the institutions of democracy.

  • Yes, obviously a Freudian slip. Should read ‘The UN resolution does not empower us to invade Western Libya.’

  • toryboysnevergrowup 1st Apr '11 - 12:39pm

    Cassie

    Thank you for demonstrating the error of your own previous statements.

    I never said that that Serbia did not believe it had a legitimate claim on Kosovo – I just pointed out one of the reasons why Kosovo Albanians also believe that they have a legitimate claim. Which is the more legitimate is another question altogether. The decendants of King Idris of Libya also probably believe that they have a legitimate claim to be rulers of Libya as well.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 1st Apr '11 - 12:56pm

    @MacK

    “We should make the area around Bengazi a safe haven amidst a demilitarised zone” I fail to see how this could be done without landforces – which would be against the present UN resolution, and there is certainly no appetite from anyone to provide the necessary UN peacekeeping forces. I also see how introducing a DMZ would help spread democracy to the Western part of Libya and hence help bring down Gaddafi – it certainly hasn’t worked in North Korea.

    Surely the object now should be to ratchet up the pressure on Gaddadfi and his thugs – as there are signs that it is starting to work. I’m sure all the noises from the US and other coalition members mulling what further forms of assistance should be provided to the rebels are all adding to that pressure.

  • @Toryboysnevergrowup

    The West has done a pretty good job so far of clearing Gaddafi out of the area around Bengazi without employing Land Forces. Furthermore, the coalition of countries involved could apply for a UN resolution to put a peace keeping force on the ground. However, that would be rather inconvenient for those oil companies whose billion pound assets straddle both rebel and Gaddafi territory, wouldn’t it? So really, you have to conclude that none opf this is really about protecting civilians. You say that a demilitarised Zone has not brought democracy to North Korea. But it has avoided major bloodshed for generations. And the division of Cyprus upheld by UN peacekeepers kept the two sides apart and prevented just the kind of thing we were determined to prevent in Bengazi. And we established safe havens too for the Kurds in Iraq prior to the removal of Saddam. I think you underestimate the advantage of having around Bengazi a democratic state which could provide refuge from those fleeing Gaddafi’s tyranny. After Iraq, I think that it behoves politicians of all hues to try to avoid another unnecessary bloodbath which will only serve to satisfy the aspirations of neo-cons. And if we start bombing Tripoli we shall only convince its citizens that we are their real enemies. I was delighted when we got rid of Hussein and appalled at the aftermath. Did the end justify the means in Iraq? I’m still not sure. I certainly think that more people died as a result of our intervention than would have done if we’d left Hussein to his evil devices. But then, we wouldn’t have had the oil, would we?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 1st Apr '11 - 3:40pm

    One of the problems with Iraq is that people did not think through or plan what should happen after the removal of Hussain – I fear that your DMZ falls into the same category – those in Cyprus and Korea came after a war and some pretty awful events – and because pressure could be applied on both sides to agree to a ceasefire. I don’t see any country that has offered to provide UN Peacekeeping troops – not even Russia and China. Given that Gadaffi appears to be rocking at the moment I suspect he would be delighted at such an offer at the moment – he could then set his secret police to work in Benghazi so as to settle scores. A man who can shoot 1200 political prisoners in a matter of hours is more that capable of such things.

  • @ Toryboysnevergrowup

    I am expecting any demilitarised zone to be properly policed by the military, you know. I’m not suggesting it should be left to the equivalent of Community Support Officers run by the parish council! And of course, if Gaddafi did try to return to Bengazi we would then be completely justified in taking him out. As we would if there was a spontaneous uprising in Tripoli which he attempted to brutally suppress. But that is much more likely if we don’t bomb the Tripoli people to hell and lose support. The experience of Iraq should teach us to play a more patient game. The heartening thing is that at least over this one there is U.N. support.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 1st Apr '11 - 5:43pm

    “The experience of Iraq should teach us to play a more patient game”

    Hardly – Saddam undertook 2 invasions, used WMDs against Kurds, Marsh Arabs and Iranian troops, forced 4m Iraquis to flee the country and ran a nasty and brutal dictatorship for many years before the invasion. If the International community had taken ealier and more effective action against Saddam which had been ratcheted up more quickly then it is possible that internal opposition to him would have been stronger and he may have been toppled or forced out without the need for a military invasion. I’m afraid that this is the lesson with many fascist dictators (e.g. Hitler, Mussolini and Saddam) that war becomes much more likely if you delay and avoid intervention.

  • >Cassie
    >Thank you for demonstrating the error of your own previous statements

    You’ll have to give me a clue what that refers to.

    >I never said that that Serbia did not believe it had a legitimate claim on Kosovo –

    I never said you did either.
    Any more than Duncan ‘forgot’ that the Albanians do.

    I merely said you might find the articles interesting, and reiterated Duncan’s point.

    But do carry on arguing with Mack.
    My one original point to him was, after all, simply to point out that you two (Labour supporters) disagree with each other on how to proceed.

  • >Mack. In Libya, we would be entering in a civil war on the side of the rebels when we have a UN resolution that instructs us to protect all civilians. That means we might end up in the invidious position of protecting Gadffi’s civilians from the rebels whom we had armed!

    I know. I am totally opposed to arming the rebels. And I was opposing Iraq publicly before we invaded.
    I’d be very pleased if going beyond the current UN resolution was actively ruled out.
    You are preaching to the converted.

    My only beef with you is:
    >The reason I believe that the Lib Dems are leading us into war, despite having said everything they did on Iraq, is that they are, most unexpectedly cheek, by jowl with the Tories on so many issues

    This is pure speculation your part. And something of a syllogism.
    And until such time as anyone actually proposes arming the rebels for sure, it will remain so.
    Coming on here accusing us of things we have done that you don’t like is one thing, but getting all moral outrage at things you imagine we might do based on unrelated things we have is silly.

    I could speculate that it’s Nick C whispering to Cameron ‘we’d never support that’ that’s stopped him proposing it. Without facts/proof, you’d likely tell me I was being ridiculous.

    IF Cameron proposes it and IF Lib Dems vote for it, then feel free to criticise.
    IF that happens, I’ll be horrified and criticising very loudly, too.

    I’m not sure Libya is about oil, btw. (Gadaffi was ‘our mate’ before all this, so had no reason to stop supplying us with oil if he crushed the rebels). I think it’s more a case of seeing TV footage of his troops hammering cities and looking set for a bloodbath and a feeling that We Must Do Something.
    After all, anyone who voiced the same concerns you have about how it might pan out (eg me!) was accused (by Labour-supporting work colleagues) of being prepared to stand by and watch innocent people being slaughtered. And of appeasing a dictator, etc.

  • @ Toryboysnevergrowup Also Cassie

    “If the International community had taken earlier and more effective action against Saddam which had been ratcheted up more quickly then it is possible that internal opposition to him would have been stronger and he may have been toppled or forced out without the need for a military invasion. I’m afraid that this is the lesson with many fascist dictators (e.g. Hitler, Mussolini and Saddam) that war becomes much more likely if you delay and avoid intervention.”

    But many in the international community did take action against Hussein in the first gulf war and failed to pursue him right back to Iraq and take him out. There was an uprising by the Shia which failed because we didn’t support them. Why? Because just like today we didn’t have a coalition of countries in support of total war. The consensus only extended to the removal of Iraq’s removal from Kuwait. I believe that if we start bombing Tripoli our coalition of support will fade. If you are advocating total war then we must go back to the UN and get a resolution to support that. The present resolution doesn’t allow for it. It does however allow for safe havens and for us to fight tooth and nail to protect them. But getting UN approval for total war would be very difficult because Gaddafi is only doing to his own people what plenty of dictators are doing around the world. Are you suggesting that we take all of them out too? I am still enough of an idealist to believe that removing all the nasty men from power would be a good thing, but enough of a realist to accept the practical limitations of such a plan without the support of the international community. Plus the fact that the Lib Dems and the Cons at the present time are slashing our defence budget, de-commissioning our aircraft carriers, sacking pilots and breaking up perfectly good aeroplanes. When I said that we should play a more patient game I was not thinking in terms of years. I meant in contrast to Iraq where we did not give the arms inspectors enough time and swallowed the dodgy dossier whole without giving it a rigorous examination. I am of the belief that “Call me Dave”, just like Blair, will put his own interpretation on the UN resolution and attempt to bounce us into action and “I’ll agree to anything, Clegg” will say “sure thing”. I’ll believe that not to be the case when the Lib Dems make it absolutely clear that this will never happen without proper authority. So, I’ll believe it when I see it. However, to be fair to Ming Campbell, he did fire a warning shot across Cameron’s bows at this week’s PMQs. As for the oil, there were reports in the Canadian press that Gaddafi was preparing to sell all his oil to Russia, China and India. So now we know why Russia and China abstained. Also, that the rebels and Gaddafi were only preparing to give their oil to the countries that were respectively supporting each side. The problem for the oil companies being that some of their installations were in both camps’ territory. Go on the internet, surf around and you’ll find that the oil is a really big issue.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 4th Apr '11 - 2:05pm

    MacK

    If Russia and China had really wanted Libya’s oil they would have vetoed the resolution rather than abstained. The reason they didn’t was that they were realistic enough to see where things are going in the Arab world – and they are not in the business of setting thmselves up against that part of the world. Yes oil may have an influence on these things – but in the main this policy is followed by not upsetting Saudi Arabia (which has sought to dispel its own rest by a large increase in public sector salaries and other goodies) .

    And no I don’t think we should have a policy of removing all nasty men from power by force of arms – what I want is a much more realistic policy where all the much less drastic sanctions are brought to bear at a lot earlier – and ideally are done so by an international body with the ability to do so when human rather than national rights are being infringed. Doing to little at the early stages just increases the size of the problem and makes force more likley as the only means that will work in removing such dictators.

    What actions do you think should be taken against Ghadaffi for his gross breaches of the UN Ceasefire?

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