Thursday, 17 March 2011

Another 48 hours: The boy who cried Victory.

When Muammar Gaddafi's son boasted yet again about imminent victory, little did he know how his belicose rhetoric might focus the mind of the UN Security Council members.

He stated that a No Fly Zone would be pointless because his forces would be in control of Benghazi, long before the UN could act to stop him. Two days was all it would take to subdue a city of some million inhabitants.

Not for the first time, talk was of retribution and destruction, of victory within days, over the rats and dogs that stood against his regime.

It's clear that much of this talk was to intimidate disenters within Libya, as much as to impress the outside world, but the world was listening, and we could not stand by and risk slaughter on this scale.

But only two days ago there seemed little chance of agreement on a No Fly Zone, yet tonight, the resolution has been passed and action can be expected soon, thanks in no small part to Gaddafi's own propaganda machine.

There are many different ways this situation might develop now.

Will Gaddafi sue for peace straight away, will he try to capture as much ground as possible before calling a ceasefire, or will he retreat into his perceived stronghold and hope to brazen it out?

And what of the UN; is this a turning point?

Can this action be prosecuted quickly and with the absolute minimum loss of life and prove to the world that International co-operation in these matters really is the way forward?

One thing is for sure, the next 48 hours will be very different to the ones that have just passed.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Libya: Obama, Where Art Thou?

Amid all the talk of No Fly Zones and Criteria for Intervention, the one voice missing, in Europe, at least, is the US President himself.

Now, this may not seem like much, but it shows a lack of understanding that goes a long way to explain America's other disastrous involvements in overseas, and particularly, Muslim, affairs.

While the carnage continues, we have been treated to Hilary Clinton gossiping with a group of women about Royal Weddings, clothes, oh, and Libya.

Just how this appears to the Arab world one can only guess, but to now see Saif Gaddafi baiting the West and gloating at the prospect of more wholesale slaughter of 'his people' shows how emasculating these girly chats by the Secretary of State have been to America's presence, and standing, in this somewhat alien culture.

What part the US President has already played in the political awakening of North Africa, should not be underestimated, either.

Overnight, he transformed America from that bastion of redneck supremacy, the Great Satan, into a modern and compassionate society. The rest of the world suddenly saw a trusted, brown face in the White House.

Democracy, it seemed, could work.

The United States in general, and Barack Obama in particular, cannot be held responsible for the knock on effects of their electoral changes, though, and it is undeniably true that America is wise to distance itself from the situation on the ground as much as possible.

It is also good that some lessons have apparently been learnt from previous involvements, but the real lesson from Iraq, was not that intervention was wrong, but that the mission should have been clear, and followed to completion at the first attempt, when the world, and particularly the Arab world, was behind it.

American troops are unlikely to be deployed in Libya, but a simple No Fly edict is probably already too little and too late. So the best we can hope for is America's blessing and whatever tactical support they can offer to those nations prepared to move against this tyrany.

UN Mandates aside, if there is enough local participation, then successful intervention is eminently feasible. But the US President must agree.