Thursday, August 25, 2011


Toppling Gaddafi has- so far- been Worth the Effort

[This post a day late as I've encountered technical problems getting access to Blogger.] I was struck yesterday by the piece by Simon Jenkins who argues the apparent 'victory' in Libya was not justified by the cost. Jenkins is a superb columnist whom I greatly respect but I fear he writes some odd columns from time to time. I recall the astonishing piece last September when he urged the abandonment of the complete defence budget.

It seems to me however that the Libyan action was fully justified. Intervening when you can, as Blair argued in his Chicago speech in 1999, must surely be justified to get rid of a murderous dictator; just as it was with Milosevic. And did we not 'intervene', too late of course, in the wholly justifiable cause of Poland in 1939?

So far it really does seem as if NATO, at Cameron and Sarkozy's prompting, has succeeded in getting rid of Gaddafi but the crucial period in the operation is now, according to Allegra Stratton in today's Guardian. She makes clear how central to the Libyan episode Ed Llewellyn, Cameron's chief of staff has been. He used to work for Paddy Ashdown in Bosnia and is well aware of the danger of allowing lawlessness to take hold once the fighting is over. As long as the post conflict phase is managed properly, I think Libya will go down as a good example of assisting an oppressed people to be free. It was a gamble for Cameron but, with good political management from now on, it should now come off and buttress his claim to re-election when he faces accountability in 2015.

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