Skip to main content

Obama will pay the price if he stands still on Libya

As the Libyan despot Gadaffi murders his way across the wreckage of his country, it is beginning to look as though the rebellion stands on the brink of defeat.

While Britain and France are trying to muster support for the interim government in Benghazi, continued air raids and merciless attacks with heavy weapons are slow prizing away their grip, even on the eastern half of Libya. It is an appalling situation.

In the face of this obvious crime, President Obama seems content to pose as a neutral- seeking a no fly zone- when the time has long past where this would be successful- or other measures that might have the support of the United Nations. Yet the UN is crippled by the determined resistance of the Russian and Chinese governments to international intervention to protect human rights. After all, both Russia and China may face democratic uprisings again soon. Meanwhile the Obama administration, weary of corralling NATO in Afghanistan, does not find any other multi-lateral forum congenial as a platform to wrest Libya from Gadaffi's grasp.

If Gadaffi wins, it will be a message to the other shaky Arab despots: Mubarak and Ben Ali were wrong to flee, the only way to meet the challenge of democracy is with unlimited violence.

This is a serious test case for President Obama. If he fails to engage with the Libyan rebellion until it is too late, he will have "lost Libya" and will find a brutal and wealthy enemy prepared to fund opposition to the West with all weapons at their disposal, up to an including terrorism. He will be abetting further crimes by the despotic regimes, and he will be opening himself up to his domestic enemies who will regard his "too little-too late" approach as indecisive at best, cowardice at worst.

Perhaps some might see it as somewhat ironic that the European powers- generally reluctant to support the overthrow of Saddam Hussein- are making the running in the potential overthrow of Gaddafi, while the US is hanging back. In fact, a victory for Gaddafi would be a calamity for Europe: a humanitarian crisis on Italy's and Malta's doorstep, and a Libyan leadership which would be -quite literally- beyond the pale. Yet it would be a disaster for the United States too- and very soon President Obama is going to have to make a decision. As so often in past American presidencies, it is a decision in foreign policy that will prove to be the hinge upon which Mr. Obama's success or failure will hang.

The half hearted, half measures that Mr Obama is clinging to at the moment will lead his Presidency to disaster. Unless he can screw his courage to the sticking place, and show decisive leadership against Gaddafi, then his Presidency, like that of Jimmy Carter in the face of Iran, will be utterly ruined.


Anonymous said…
I am very much afraid that whatever we do now it is already too late to either depose Gaddafi or intervene on behalf of the people of Libya.

And whatever price Obama pays, it won't be half the bill Gaddafi presents to them.

Popular posts from this blog

Concert and Blues

Tallinn is full tonight... Big concerts on at the Song field The Weeknd and Bonnie Tyler (!). The place is buzzing and some sixty thousand concert goers have booked every bed for thirty miles around Tallinn. It should be a busy high summer, but it isn´t. Tourism is down sharply overall. Only 70 cruise ships calling this season, versus over 300 before Ukraine. Since no one goes to St Pete, demand has fallen, and of course people think that Estonia is not safe. We are tired. The economy is still under big pressure, and the fall of tourism is a significant part of that. The credit rating for Estonia has been downgraded as the government struggles with spending. The summer has been a little gloomy, and soon the long and slow autumn will drift into the dark of the year. Yesterday I met with more refugees: the usual horrible stories, the usual tears. I try to make myself immune, but I can´t. These people are wounded in spirit, carrying their grief in a terrible cradling. I try to project hop

Media misdirection

In the small print of the UK budget we find that the Chancellor of the Exchequer (the British Finance Minister) has allocated a further 15 billion Pounds to the funding for the UK track and trace system. This means that the cost of the UK´s track and trace system is now 37 billion Pounds.  That is approximately €43 billion or US$51 billion, which is to say that it is amount of money greater than the national GDP of over 110 countries, or if you prefer, it is roughly the same number as the combined GDP of the 34 smallest economies of the planet.  As at December 2020, 70% of the contracts for the track and trace system were awarded by the Conservative government without a competitive tender being made . The program is overseen by Dido Harding , who is not only a Conservative Life Peer, but the wife of a Conservative MP, John Penrose, and a contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson at Oxford. Many of these untendered contracts have been given to companies that seem to have no notewo

Bournemouth absence

Although I had hoped to get down to the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth this year, simple pressure of work has now made that impossible. I must admit to great disappointment. The last conference before the General Election was always likely to show a few fireworks, and indeed the conference has attracted more headlines than any other over the past three years. Some of these headlines show a significant change of course in terms of economic policy. Scepticism about the size of government expenditure has given way to concern and now it is clear that reducing government expenditure will need to be the most urgent priority of the next government. So far it has been the Liberal Democrats that have made the running, and although the Conservatives are now belatedly recognising that cuts will be required they continue to fail to provide even the slightest detail as to what they think should guide their decisions in this area. This political cowardice means that we are expected to ch