Sunday, 20 March 2011

Cassandra’s Lament


If there is ever some future Chilcot Inquiry over David Cameron’s war on Libya he will, unlike Tony Blair, his avatar and inspiration, be able to wave his little flag: “But it was all perfectly legal. The United Nations said so.”

Oh, yes, there is that vote in the Security Council, with no opposition. But look at the abstentions, five of them, including Russia and China, countries that know how to play the diplomatic game according to the only rules that matter – those once laid down by Niccolò Machiavelli. Now, as western missiles and bombs once again rain down on an Arab country, the Russians are expressing regret over international military action, taken after a “hastily approved” UN resolution.

We used to play the game of diplomatic risk well in this country, in accordance with our own interests, but not any longer. Now muddle, incompetence and confusion is followed by a rush to the moral high ground. Cameron says that the present bombardment is “necessary, legal and right.” I wrote about this “necessary, legal and right” prospect not so long ago (Keep out of Libya), a whisper lost in the storm.

It’s just so frustrating, the stupidity and incompetence is frustrating, just as Cameron’s determination to walk in the paths of the wretched Tony Blair is frustrating. We, for reasons I find almost impossible to understand, given how overstretched our military and how threadbare our finances, are now involved in another dreadful gung-ho war, the hat-trick to add to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Consider what Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy have done, look at the possible outcomes. The Colonel’s offensive may be halted, frozen exactly where it is, leaving him in control of Tripoli and the west with the rebels holding on to Benghazi and the east. This may be a permanent state, with Libya hereafter a divided nation, a political fracture caused by tomahawks. I would hazard that the whole region will be destabilised as a result. I would hazard further that, once the dust settles, the Muslim world will see this exactly for what it is – another act of Western aggression.

But the Arab League is behind this, so the objection goes. Yes, they are, against repression in Libya while some of their hypocritical members enforce it in Bahrain. And what of Yemen, what of the people of Yemen, do they somehow matter less than the people of Libya?

But it’s the ignorance of our great world leaders that perplexes me most, their complete incomprehension when it comes to the Arab world, the tribal nature of the Arab world, the tribal nature of places like Libya. The Colonel for all his lunacy at least gave the place unity, a sense of national identity. David Cameron says he does not want a failed pariah state on Europe’s southern flank, “potentially threatening our security, pushing people across the Mediterranean and creating a more dangerous and uncertain world for Britain and for our allies, as well as for the people of Libya.” But, as Daniel McCarthy wrote recently in the Spectator, a failed state is exactly what Libya is almost certain to become, one of constant civil war between competing tribes, Somalia on the Med.

The rebels are not strong enough to remove Gaddafi by their own efforts, that much is clear, just as the Iraqi rebels were not strong enough to remove Saddam after the First Gulf War. So, what’s next? Mission creep, that’s what, either supplying the rebels with arms, causing yet more loss of life, or sending in ground forces to end the deadlock that this precipitate action is likely to create. Bombing alone is unlikely to remove Gaddafi. Just wait to see how Al-Jazeera reports, just wait to see how it goes down in the Muslim world when the first school or hospital is hit by a ‘smart’ bomb.

I can’t believe that I’m raising this; I can’t believe that our government has not considered this dreadful prospect, a government that launches aircraft carriers with no aircraft, an administration blinded by Cameron’s laughable self-righteousness. Was one Iraq not enough? Are we to see body bags from Libya? Starting one dreadful war without forward planning or proper comprehension may be regarded as a misfortune, starting two looks like carelessness, or stupidity, or a whole combination of things that have nothing to do with the interests of this country and its people. For the love of God, here we are again. Who would have believed it possible?

Oh, mystery, misery! Again comes on me
The terrible labour of true prophecy, dizzying prelude.
Do you see these who sit before the house,
Children, like the shapes of dreams?
Children who seem to have been killed by their kinsfolk,
Filling their hands with meat, flesh of themselves,
Guts and entrails, handfuls of lament -
Clear what they hold - the same their father tasted.


34 comments:

  1. they can't bring the ongoing conflicts to a conclusion after ten years, so why not start another?

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  2. My 'layperson' impressions of what's going on (or at least what we are told is going on) raises some sentiments similar to yours Ana.

    Intuitively, I feel that interfering in local politics with the attitude of 'We know better than thou and We are stronger than thou' and worst of all, 'Because we can, we will' is improper.

    This despite the well-worn idiom: Bad things happen when good people don't do anything. Yes, not one that I necessarily agree with especially because I believe that the quality and value of an action is determined by one's *motivation*. And I am hardly convinced that the motivation of the UN is for the peace and welfare of Libyans. As you rightly point out, if it were so, what about the other peoples of the world?

    Last night, as I was watching a BBC broadcast about movements in Libya, I couldn't help thinking that the world is rather like a huge family or a body. All parts belong to the one but, unlike a family, there is no obvious, natural 'head'. In fact, I rather think that this 'head' metaphor is a bit outdated.

    I prefer the idea of a team with leaders (if needed) chosen rather than self-appointed (as the US and the UK seem to have done).

    I'm not sure that the leaders of these nations are stupid. I tend to think that there are powerful, underlying forces that dictate or at least significantly influence their decisions. To this extent, you may even say they are highly crafty...sigh..

    The fact that we are constantly shown images and arguments for the ousting of Gaddafi by Lubyans literally shaking with passion and who, we are led to assume, want UN intervention made me wonder how much of this was media orchestration. I don't doubt that many Libyans want Gaddafi out but do they all want UN intervention?

    It's so easy to focus on one or two parts of a multi-dimensional matrix when that is all that is fed to you by the media and politicians. And let's face it, it's about as much as the average person can handle. Which works well for extremists of any kind, knee-jerk reactionaries and people with undisclosed agendas.

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  3. I begin to smell a big, fat rat in this sudden urge for 'liberation' across the Arab world.

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  4. Ana, my Stateside view is about the same as yours. In our case, the action is blatantly unConstitutional. Neither our so-called President nor the damn UN has any authority to order US forces into combat without consultation and approval from the elected representatives of the people, i.e. Congress. IMO, this is unquestionably an impeachable offense. I've got no love for Gadaffi, but Libya's internal affairs are their own business.

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  5. Nice piece. I was going to write a long response giving my opinion as to why we are bombing the Libyans. But I decided to reduce it to the basics. Cameron is a prat.

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  6. TBT, yes, you are quite right - they are not stupid. Thus the stupidity of their actions, the hubris, only serves to perplex me even more! Thanks so much for such a thoughtful and detailed response.

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  7. Bob, absolutely. Once this sort of thing starts it's almost impossible to stop. Our benighted leaders have no political or strategic vision, rather alarming considering the seriousness of the situation.

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  8. Michael, yes he is and I'm a Conservative by nature and conviction!

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  9. Anastasia

    I am not doing much about Blogging right now as you know and did my little Post just after the UN announcement, hoping to hear that common sense would step in and avoid this preposterous armed invasion of an almost defenseless country.

    Yes, I know what I am about to say now will not be popular with many; it was always difficult for me to understand the minds behind 911 and I certainly condemned it.

    However, what “civilized nations” are now doing in Libya under the cloak of “democracy” and actually claiming that they “are doing it or the World” [quote Obama] has made me understand some of 911. If this is the road America and Britain have chosen they can only expect more 911’s and will deserve it.

    There can be no excuse for any terrorism, even if you wrap it the cloak of democracy. It remains terrorism and should be condemned.

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  10. Ana, Security Council abstentions don’t count; they are like spoilt ballot papers. Thank heavens that words like muddle, incompetence, confusion, frustration, and stupidity, which one can quite fairly direct at so many politicians and commentators, are not descriptive of the current military response to the Security Council resolution. It appears the UK can launch aircraft surprisingly effectively with no aircraft carriers, and the military appear to be competent in their forward planning and comprehension of the task at hand.

    Libya was divided before; it may well be divided in the future. But as I indicated in my response to your previous blog, I was delighted to see those tanks prevented from reaching Benghazi, and I shudder to think what would have happened if they had reached their objective.
    :-)

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  11. I've just read this...

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8393843/Libya-Benghazi-about-to-fall...-then-came-the-planes.html

    Oh dear, now you know I read your blog before catching up with the news!
    :-)

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  12. To expand on my very short remark about David Cameron.

    We have attacked an independent sovereign state; a fellow member of the UN. Where is it going to end? What if Algeria goes up in flames and the French want to intervene. What if the Shia (and partly Iranian) majority gain control of Bahrain and invite in Iranian “peace keepers”? What if the Chinese decide to take back control of their missing province?

    Wouldn’t it be better if Cameron concentrated on domestic matters for a while?

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  13. Schopenhauer said if you live long enough, you get to see the same tired play of lies and stupidities played over and over again. Eventually, one gets bored of it all(my addendum) and spends the remainder of one's days in happy neglect, staring at the moon.

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  14. @Bob Mack: I share your thinking exactly. and the Imperial style of war-making has become habitual. It is time to stop it.

    http://politicalinquirer.com/2008/01/21/list-of-countries-bombed-by-the-united-states/

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  15. @ Bob M : The NWO says otherwise.

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  16. Ike, yes, yes, yes. Parliament here voted overwhelmingly this evening in favour of this action. Regrets will folow.

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  17. CI, but they do count, not at all like spoiled ballot papers, because they allow for equivocation, and Russia is already equivocating. If things go well the abstainers need say nothing; but if they go badly…

    I no more welcome death and tragedy than you do, and I have no good opinion of the Mad Colonel, with whom we were oh so anxious to do deals, including selling armaments. If the tanks had reached Benghazi the rebellion would have been quashed. Now it may go on indefinitely. I believe that there was a supplementary objective to the onslaught on Libya; I believe that it encapsulates and deliberate attempt at assassination, something hinted at by Liam Fox, the defence secretary, something that gives the lie to the whole bogus strategy. The security of the whole Mediterranean, including the security of Israel, has been deeply compromised. I hope things turn out well but Cassandra sees otherwise.

    Thanks for the link. :-)

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  18. Michael, where is it all going to end? Yes, is there any more relevant question?

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  19. NP,I can only get ever more frustrated with the things I see, with the stupidity I see. How I long for the Moon!

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  20. Look up how Michio Kaku explains world order.

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  21. Put this blurb from HuffPo into my post on Obama's Libyan Adventure: What's In It For Him?:

    [...] on a per capita basis, no country sent more young fighters into Iraq to kill Americans than Libya — and almost all of them came from eastern Libya, the center of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion that the United States and others now have vowed to protect, according to internal al Qaeda documents uncovered by U.S. intelligence.

    Still, the NWO ain't won yet, Anthony. Like J.P. Jones said, we've just begun to fight. Or something like that...

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  22. Ana, I had no idea that equivocation was so important, but there we are - I'm a novice at geopolitics. I was always attracted to more exact sciences, hence my view that a task force of T72 tanks in a civilian environment could make 9/11 look like a picnic.

    I'm wondering what you mean by the security of the whole Mediterranean, and why is it being compromised. I hope you'll elaborate in a future blog!
    :-)

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  23. Yes, I'm going to give this a lot more thought, CI, though I'm also going to wait a week or two to see how things pan out. The security issue comes down to possible outcomes. If there is no clear resolution a lengthy period of civil war is likely to set in, tribal fractures and anarchy. Think of the length of Libya's coastline, think how close it is to both Israel and southern Europe, think how vulnerable southern Europe is, especially Italy, the soft 'underbelly', barely coping with the influx of illegals as it is. A failed state on the Med has all the makings of a nightmare.

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  24. Is this a defection to UKiP Ana?

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  25. I'm not quite ready to go that far, Nobby, not yet. :-)

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  26. You could build a wall across Northern Italy and call it the Kesselring Line.

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  27. Go further south and call it the Gothic Line. :-)

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  28. The south was tainted long ago.

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  29. I am very dismayed. Firstly because the British public were not clearly told as to why their government had suddenly decided to attack (read invade) Libya out of the blue. My father lived in Libya in the seventies so I am aware through him of what the situation was like. Why Libya? The reason we were given by the government was a flimsy one deliberately trying to avoid the word oil (and by reason of which other countries were much more 'deserving' of being attacked from the government's vantage point). By all means I do not condone Qaddafi's oil dollars or his Green Book which is anything but green, in fact it is red through and through.

    Up to this point I had supported the Conservative Government whom I had voted in the last election into 10 Downing Street to govern this, my country. As I have said elsewhere, I support the cuts and the decisions being made to get us out of the economic quagmire created by the last government. Libya has convinced my cynicism that all political parties are the same when it comes to double standards and egoistic priorities and when it comes to arse-licking the USA. I shall not be renewing my membership of the Conservative Party any longer.

    Politicians and poets can never see each other eye to eye. I'll stick to my poetry. Rant Over.

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