Sunday, 13 March 2011

No-fly zone in Libya - Obama should stop dithering

The Daily Telegraph´s Matthew Ancona says that British PM David Cameron knows what to do about Libya, but wonders whether president Obama knows?:


The Prime Minister is laying the groundwork for intervention in Libya - and rightly so, says Matthew d'Ancona. Now Barack Obama needs to follow his lead.

At the special regional Cabinet meeting in Derby on Monday, the Prime Minister told his colleagues that a no-fly zone over Libya would not require a specific UN Security Council resolution. This was as clear a statement of intent as David Cameron has yet made on the fate of Colonel Gaddafi. The PM would like UN backing, naturally, but does not regard the endorsement of the world's biggest focus group as a prerequisite for robust intervention in the Libyan crisis.
There are even those in the Cabinet who believe that Britain could impose a no-fly zone without American support. "Not desirable, but possible," says one. The very fact that such strategic possibilities are being countenanced at this level of government is remarkable indeed.
hope that the president follows Cameron's lead, as Clinton followed Blair's lead in Kosovo, for one principal reason: inaction is not a neutral position. Douglas Hurd's most inglorious decision as foreign secretary was to oppose the lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnia on the grounds that it would create a "level killing field". How quickly memories of the Srebrenica massacre, in which more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered, have faded. After Rwanda, the West said "never again" – until the next time, of course.
The argument for intervention in Libya is not purely or even primarily humanitarian, however. Even if one sets aside its importance as an oil-producing nation, Libya remains central to Britain's strategic and commercial interests in the region. It is noticeable that as the West (apart from Britain and France) has wavered, Gaddafi has grown in confidence. What signal will it send if the mad colonel is now left to crush the rebels, embark upon bloody reprisals, and embrace pariah status once more?
Remember: his was a regime that once armed the IRA and brought down a Boeing 747 over Lockerbie. Britain can ill afford the Gaddafi of March 2011 – embattled, incensed, bent on revenge – to remain in power. Nor can America. Osama bin Laden once said that "when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse". To an extent that has not yet been fully grasped, the whole world is watching, yet again, to see whether the West is weak or strong. Cameron, to his credit, has overcome his temperamental caution and decided the path he wants to take. So what's it going to be, Mr President? To borrow one of Obama's favourite slogans: the moment is now.

Read the entire column here.

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