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.