Saturday, March 19, 2011


UN Resolution Judged by Blair's 1999 Tests of Admissability

Malcolm Rifkind, an unusually wise old Tory owl, writes in The Guardian today in support of UN Resolution 1973:

The resolution is expansive, providing explicit authorisation to member states to take all means necessary – long a euphemism for military force – to protect Libyan towns and cities. Its effect was felt quickly, prompting Gaddafi's decision to order a ceasefire.

He goes on to assert:

If the declared ceasefire is not honoured by the Gaddafi regime, military action will follow swiftly.

The Guardian's editorial is less confident that extensive military action will follow or indeed the wisdom of such a course of action.

Tony Blair warmly supports the move against his sometime new-found Middle Eastern mate, but I wonder how his 1999 Chicago speech which outlined the conditions on which his vision of liberal interventionism, would match with the UN resolution and its implied corollary actions. This speech insisted any action had to meet five conditions:

1. Are we sure of our case? There seems no doubt that, despite his specious denials Gadaffi has been seeking to slaughter those who are seeking to assert their human rights to protest against a cruel and oppressive regime.

2. Have we exhausted all diplomatic options? Well, as the mad colonel refuses to allow anyone into his country and has promised to 'kill' his opposing fellow Libyans without 'mercy or pity' I think we can assume he is not open to any more polite diplomatic overtures

3. Are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? the resolution talks of 'all means necessary', a euphemism for military action- to prevent loss of innocent lives, but rules out any occupation- the key element of the Iraq and Afghanistan operations which produced bloody stalemates.

4. Are we prepared for the long-term? So far nobody is talking about this far ahead and it is hoped a ringing condemnation of Gadaffi's regime will encourage defections from the his clique which will eventually lead to his removal from the scene.

5. Are there national interests involved? Cameron argues there are national and European interests at stake:

Gaddafi's attacks on his own people succeed, Libya will become once again a pariah state, festering on Europe's border, a source of instability, exporting strife beyond her borders. A state from which literally hundreds of thousands of citizens could seek to escape, putting huge pressure on us in Europe.

Blair's conditions, axccording to my reckoning, barely gained three out of ticks in the case of his Iraq war but, by wisely limiting its objectives this resolution would easily pass muster. What is more, the Arab League has crucially agreed the UN endorsed action. Looking further ahead, the colonel has declared a ceasefire in response to the UN's call but few would feel confident it will presage an early settlement of the struggle.

Gaddafi and his sons will continue to use any and every weapon to those who dared to question his right to rule. Hard to believe but there still appear to be considerable numbers of people, not all of them beneficiaries of regime's largesse, who believe this barking mad joke of leader to be the best possible leader of the oil rich country. It could yet be a struggle which continues for weeks or months.

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