What is the end game in Libya?

 

                The UN resolution that the UK government helped secure charges UN countries to impose a No fly zone on Libyan government forces so they cannot harm their citizens from the air. It has also been interpreted as allowing UN aircraft to take action against tanks and other offensive weaponry of the Libyan government if the UN forces believe those items are going to be used to harm civilians.  The UN forces, now led by France and the UK, have been doing these functions well.

           There is,however, a growing feeling by commentators that success for the French and British forces would take the form of regime change. The ultimate guarantee for the security of civilians in Libya would, some feel, only be secured if the dictator were removed. This is not what the UN agreed to. It also requires offering more help to the rebel forces to secure victory or to force the dictator out.

           In the early  days NATO struggled with the question would they take military action against rebel forces if they appeared to be advancing and running the risk of killing civilians. NATO did not want to say they would, but they recognised that the UN resolution did not say they are to intervene on the side of the rebels to promote their cause.

          Today the western powers remind us there are diplomatic actions they need to take to complement the military. What the public want to know is how long we are committed to our current range of actions, and when other countries will play a fuller part in policing the No fly zone. A No fly zone on its own was never guaranteed to bring the regime down, nor was that the UN agreed plan. If we are in for a longer operation, policing the skies above a war torn country beneath, it is high time there was proper burden sharing with other NATO nations. One of the reasons I did not vote for the intervention was the difficulty in seeing how this open ended commitment would work, and my feeling that countries nearer to Libya were better placed to do whatever needed doing from outside.

               I do not think we should seek to widen the mission to involve western countries in deciding the military and  political outcome on the ground as Libya struggles with its future. Going too far in helping the rebels means the UN then becomes involved in the conflict which is killing  people on the ground, and leads to the west being involved in any future political settlement.

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39 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    I agree fully.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      I likewise agree. I congratulate your restraint (JR) in not voting for another folly. Mission-creep is almost guaranteed since it is unclear what we are trying to achieve exactly and the participants in the madness can’t agree amongst themselves.

      Prospects for a happy outcome ~ limited. (The anglo-french thing rather reminds me of another suicidal foreign policy adventure, the Crimean war!)

      Please, please, please, NO GROUND TROOPS

    • lifelogic
      Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      To anyone still taken in by the great government wind farms scam can I recommend the recent report by the John Muir Trust.

      Bear in mind that electrical energy cannot be stored cost effectively. So electricity produced at random is worth far less than on demand production.

      I wonder when the EU, the BBC and Cameron will finally catch on to the real economic madness of these giant birds choppers. Perhaps the biggest, most pointless, religious symbols of the 21st century.

  2. Peter
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    This Libyan war is totally unjustifiable. It is a civil war between people we know almost nothing about and cannot judge the justice of their cause. There are many reports online about the rebels being muslim extremists and yet the mainstream media produces a non stop flow of anti Gaddafi propaganda most of which is dubious. Considering that living standards were higher for his population than for any others in North Africa/ Middle East and that the West have been selling him weapons for years this whole fiasco strikes me as power politics and opportunism by the US, Britain and France, none of whom show the slightest interest in human rights as long as the government involved does what they are told by Obama and Co.
    I read an article the other day to the effect that the US has dropped fifty million tons of bombs on other country’s since 1945. Truly they are the bringers of peace and democracy.

  3. APL
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    David Cameron thinks Kashmir is the fault of British interference. Why doesn’t he condemn British interference in Libaya?

  4. Jose
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    As normal, NATO has fallen to the same level as the countries within the EU i.e. self interest! How on earth can such a diverse group ever agree on anything except when it comes to their own national interests?
    They now have the additional problem of an even larger number of migrants to deal with and so far they are not doing it any better than we should expect.
    They seem to have given no thought whatsoever as to what to do should Gaddafi refuse to go and the rebels not have sufficient power to throw him out!

  5. Martyn
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Since the beginning of this affair I have seen no evidence of the government having a thought-through campaign plan or strategic aims for the military to implement, other hoping that a no-fly zone would stop the Gaddafi forces in their tracks.
    As a result, Gaddafi’s forces have changed their tactics and in effect we now have two guerrilla armies fighting each other, with one side having access to heavier weapons than the other. The odds against the poorly-led and disciplined rebel forces gaining the upper hand appear to be dwindling daily and my concern in that the government will talk itself into throwing more money and troops into the equation to try and balance the opposing forces.
    The government should stick to seeking a political resolution without risking stretching our armed forces closer towards breaking point and increasing the already considerable ill-feeling in several countries in the area against the UK.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    If there is no diplomatic solution, then I believe that a long drawn out civil ype war will take place, which will make things ever more diffcult for Nato, or any other outside organisation.

    Agree with your comments, and reiterate my own before this all started. Arab countries should be far, far more involved in upholding the UN mandate, we should not be involved in front line action at all.

  7. waramess
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    A laudable sentiment to go and protect civillians but why Libya when so many other deserving causes remain ignored?

    It’s a pity only 11 MP’s voted against involvment. Maybe now we will see greater sense prevailing.

  8. Bryan
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    This has all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making as we are sucked into an ever growing civil war.

    It was none of our business so why did our Government get us involved in the first place? Words fail me!

    As they do when asked – why do we borrow money to give away to countries like Pakistan?

    Nothing changes.

  9. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    As distressing as the Libyan situation is, it will run and run and I feel the article by Simon Heffer on the increasing failings of Cameron as a Conservative is more significant. If only it had been written by a Conservative MP.

  10. English Pensioner
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    We seem to be very selective in our peace keeping. I believe that there was a far greater case for Britain intervening against Mugabe in Zimbabwe, which, after all, was once a British Colony. Mugabe has probably been responsible for the deaths of far more people than Gadafi, although not in such a spectacular manner. If his so-called veterans haven’t killed them with machetes, they have died slowly of starvation or forced labour in mines, and the country now has one of the lowest life expectancies in Africa (compared with the highest under Ian Smith).
    And what happens when/if we get regime change in Libya; simply another dictator as the only way of holding a country like Libya together is with a dictator because western style democracy has never worked in the Arab/Islamic world.
    There are strong arguments for splitting Libya into its old parts of Tripolitania and Cyraniaca, if only on the basis that small countries are likely to be able to cause less trouble than big ones – a variation on the old “divide and rule” principle.

    The first British serviceman killed there will cause an outrage, we’ve seen it in Iraq, then Afghanistan (where nothing much has changed) and we don’t want it in Libya.

    I suppose the only bright side of the whole affair is, if the newspapers are correct, is that it is forcing Cameron to review the defence cuts.

  11. acorn
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    You have to hand it to the US, making an early exit from the Libyan theatre. Obama does not need to be seen bombing yet another Islamic country and taking over its oil. This conflict is now an Anglo-French operation. NATO has only ever been a US /UK /French organisation; the other countries just have walk-on parts.

    The Arab states are playing a cameo role. The Other EU states all had doctors appointments or something similar. The West has never had a problem with Arab dictators, as long as the oil kept flowing. For ten years Gaddafi was an inspired leader, when he gave up bankrolling terrorists and nukes and complied with US foreign policy.

    (The prime directive of any government is to stay in power; policies may change at short notice to comply with current hypocrisy. Terms and conditions apply. Foreign intervention is dangerous; you may loose your home – in a blinding flash – if you fail to pay homage. This offer is limited to the next election period; only one barrel of oil per customer.)

  12. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    We are not going to send in ground troops and the combination of a no fly zone and air attacks can only deliver stalemate. So if we want regime change, we will need to supply weapons to the rebels, which would break an embargo. For me a negotiated settlement, with Gaddafi retaining a coastal strip from Sitre westwards, whilst a rebel government controlled the rest of Libya, would be acceptable.

    We cannot dictate the end game. We do not know how politically coherent the rebels are and their governmental and military structures are rudimentary.

  13. prasad
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Now Libya is fighting with NATO forces from so many days but it gains nothing both sides so many people have died and lot of people are injured with this war so Libya should think of it. No one can gain anything with this war. Only peace talks are the best solution for this problem.

  14. Damien
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    John,

    As you say the impression is that the FCO is unable to articulate its strategy and this is undermining the support at home and morale of those whom we seek to aid on the ground.

    A good example is the good PR that was gained with the high level defection of Moussa Koussa which somehow the FCO have squandered. Instead of being able to show how the debriefing of Moussa has been been helpful in combat with the Gadaffi regime today I read Moussa Koussa is flying out of the UK and somehow its he who has enhanced his status!

    Likewise the handling of the freezing of assets. The FCO having successfully frozen the assets but they have not capitalized on the PR opportunity of publicising these assets to the Libyan people, which would further erode Gadaffis diminishing support. Contrast this with the actions of the Egyptians who have arrested Mubarack and sons. The rebel council in Egypt know that publicising the corruption is absolutely necessary to maintain the momentum on the ground.

    Ditto for the NATO air strikes, we are not hearing of their successful missions in sufficient detail although I blame this in part for our left wing media. In Egypt it was Al Jazzera who won the media initiative for the rebels but the mighty BBC are by comparison lacking in many respects.

  15. FaustiesBlog
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The end game is simple.

    According to US General Wesley Clark (ret), the West has long planned to take out 7 countries in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran. This plan was announced to insiders just after 9/11.

    Let the man tell you himself. Watch:

    Also see: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/733252.stm

    It is clear, therefore, that the government is being economical with the truth. As with Iraq and Afghanistan, this war is not meant to be over quickly.

    • FaustiesBlog
      Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      JR, why delete the link to the video. Without the video link, the post doesn’t make sense! Please reconsider?

      Reply: Either the video link did not work when I tried it or I was otherwise unable to check it out. I don’t have enough hours in the day to check out videos and long sites.

  16. oldtimer
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    I remain unconvinced that the French and British governments thought this issue through fully at the time they secured the UN resolution. I suspect they only achieved abstentions by Russia and China because the resolution provided for the African Union ad hoc committeee to seek to reach a political settlement. It is not really in the hands of France or the UK or NATO. The most likely outcome seems to be a prolonged political and military stalemate, and an open ended commitment of forces and money. It is a mess.

  17. Yarnesfromhorsham
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Dont we have enough problems here in the UK? Yet once more the politicians go rushing off to look good – no thought at all. Its as though they are unable to deal/address UK problems so distract the public with another foreign military escapade. Some lessons never seem to have been learnt.

  18. BobE
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    As the late lamented Linda Smith commented. “Its our oil under their sand”.

    • norman
      Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Or as George Osborne said recently when ratcheting up oil production tax in the UK to between 62% and 85%:

      It’s our oil and we want our fair share.

      Perhaps he wants a fair share of Libyan oil too? Very Hugo Chavez.

  19. forthurst
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Of course, our relations with Gadaffi never really recovered after the ‘Trojan’ transmitter was planted by a well known secret service agency to broadcast instructions purportedly from the government in Tripoli to Libyan embassies to engage in organising ‘terrorism’; the US and British governments were duly suckered into believing them genuine and the UK facilitated the US bombing of Tripoli.

    Is their no end to the vanity, arrogance, and stupidity of our politicians? When did they last ask, “Is this in the British interest?” Do they understand the question? Is it covered by the PPE course at an elite university? Why do we continually undermine our own sovereignty and autonomy by getting into the backend of a pantomine horse variously denominated: NATO, the EU, the Special Relationship in order to eviscerate yet another country and with no clear plan or purpose other than for killing to save lives and for destroying to build a better future.

    Is it such a good idea to give so many foreigners the strong impression that the only safe place to create that future for themselves and their families is with us in the West and away from the radio-active rubble that was their homes?

  20. Vanessa
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    When will little Dave realise it was the worst decision he made (just so he could beat his puny little chest and show how strong he was to take us to war – AGAIN). When will our politicians THINK before they send our boys to slaughter. I suppose they think it makes them look so big. How pathetic they are; I would love to see how quickly they decide on war if one of their family is going to be involved.

    • Stuart Fairney
      Posted April 14, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      Yes indeed, or like Henry V to actually be involved at great personal risk themselves.

  21. Alte Fritz
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Reading this post, I thought the EU must have something to say about all this. So off I went to the EU website, neatly named ‘Europa’. No sign of a policy there, save for some aid. Where is the Baroness when she is needed?

  22. Kenneth
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    There is a serious danger that we have (or will) produce the conditions for a prolonged civil war causing more lives to be lost over time than lives saved. This is not to mention the increasing risks to our own people who will no doubt be called imperialists if our involvement becomes prolonged.

    Another aspect we always seem to clumsily forget is the destabilising effect our intervention may have over many years to come as the tangled and delicate balance of regional and local power in Libya is altered.

    Then there is the cost. Recently we heard of a life that was lost in London due to gang activity and the subsequent discovery of an arms cache. Perhaps the resources from shouldering a disproportionate share of the cost of the Libyan effort would be better spent saving lives at home where our police should have the resources to gather intelligence on gang activity.

  23. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    People who grieve over our follies and violence at the end of Empire seem to see the whole world as our responsibility.
    It isn’t.
    We are a trading bloc, the West, and that is all. We are not responsible for the Islamic Reformation, the growing savagery in Africa or the poverty of India and China during their industrial revolutions.

    PS If any politician thinks this will make them popular abroad, then surely even Northern Ireland should have taught them that this will never be the case.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted April 13, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      Northern Ireland is not abroad; it is an integral part of the United Kingdom. The Good Friday agreement, which treated Unionists and Republicans as equals, and imposed on Unionists the requirement that they could have any partner they liked as long as it was Sinn Fein, is the worst day’s work we have done for many a long day.

      Reply: Most people are glad a way was found for the Catholic and Protestant communities of Northern Ireland to live in peace and work together, as they now do to a much greater extent than in the troubles.

  24. Electro-Kevin
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I bitterly regret voting in support of David Cameron at the general election – for this and other reasons.

    From a tribally Tory family I will break with this voting tradition henceforth.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted April 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      His Oxford University utterances demonstrate the worst of ‘politically correct’ inclinations and lack of understanding about the demise of our education system and his apparent cluelessness about what makes a meritocracy.

      His appointment of Kenneth Clarke …

      Good grief ! How can you belong to such a party, Mr Redwood ?

      • BobE
        Posted April 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

        John looks to his own future and pensions. Alone he is just one voice, ignored except by us. Under the circumstances all he can do is his best for his family and future.
        The EU has won really, almost nothing can be altered now. We can watch as this bunch of leaders join the EU gravy train in 4 years time. The next labour government will be little more than a stamping unit for the EU masters of Germany and France.

      • Stuart Fairney
        Posted April 14, 2011 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        Yes, I do not know why the PM wants fewer white, asian and chinese people to go to Oxford? I do not know why anyone would imagine the admissions staff at Oxford are acting in some kind of a discriminatory way when they patently are not.

        A curious and ill-thought statement indeed.

  25. Philip Lardner
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Well said Mr Redwood – glad you didn’t vote for this action, as the regime change outcome is clearly what was intended all along but as usual, we were lied to by those pushing the intervention. I have served in the military, and anyone who has regards military action as the last resort – innocent people always get killed and in this kind of civil war deaths merely entrench the hatred and inflame the desire for revenge, leading to a very vicious circle and long-term enmity. Libyans must decide their own future, and a majority seem to want the Colonel…

  26. John Ward
    Posted April 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    ‘One of the reasons I did not vote for the intervention was the difficulty in seeing how this open ended commitment would work’

    You and me both. I also cannot see any fiscal futures raison d’etre (harsh as this may sound) for us to be involved in a north African civil war between two lots of people, both of whom will inevitably grow to hate our presence there, and want us out.

    I can, however, see a career/image/macho rationale – but it does seem to be focused around the ambitions of the Prime Minister.

  27. StevenL
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink

    Well I see the media are reporting that the Typhoon dropped a bomb. The other week I read something saying it couldn’t do that until 2018.

    I guess the endgame comes when the Indians decide whether they want to buy Rafales or Typhoons (or neither).

    Then we send UN peacekeepers in to stand in the middle for a few years until everyone forgets about it.

  28. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    I agree that no ground troops should be used in Libya.

    You replied to my comment on another subject regarding the action taken in Libya saying that there was indeed a vote on the Action in Libya. I stand corrected.
    I also note that you abstained from the vote. This is certainly an improvement on your vote for the Iraq War – which you voted for.

    My question to you is this – and I don’t want to single you out especially as you did not vote for the War so I will re-phrase this:

    Why did so many MPs abstain from such an important vote when they could have at least registered their opposition to it?

    My MP voted for this – so I am discussed with the inaccurate way in which he has represented my interests.

    I am surprised to find that 557 MPs actually voted for War in Libya. Do you believe this accurately reflects public opinion?
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12816279

    As many politicians are continually telling us how bad the “Deficit” is (let alone the National Debt), why is it felt necessary to drag us into yet another War that effectively is a Civil War. Will lives be saved? Or will it increase the tensions in the Middle East?

    Perhaps Tony Blair should be summoned in front of a Select Committee and questioned about his part in all of this. Why did he sell Weapons to Geddaffi?

    Reply: I argued against the war and explained to Ministers my concerns. I did not vote against the motion because it was mainly about wishing to end atrocities in Libya, and because it was clear the overwhelming majority of MPs did agree with the action so there was no chance of stopping it.

  29. cosmic
    Posted April 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    This adventure was entered into for nominally humanitarian reasons, which were clearly humbug. It became clear from the outset that the the only criterion for success could be to remove Gadaffi. However, Gadaffi is proving a harder nut to crack than first thought and the rebels may well not turn out to be any better. We’re seeing mission creep, moving from a no fly zone to participating in the fighting.

    Walking away from this without toppling Gadaffi will be an admission of failure and huge sums wasted, so we are sucked in further. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended with ground troops being used and a long term involvement.

    I see no clear national interest.

    No consideration as to where it could lead, we know absolutely nothing about the rebels.

    Not much consideration as to whether we had the resources.

    No exit strategy.

    No stated criteria for success. There was the implied one of removing Gaddafi. Just as important, no criteria for failure, it’s necessary to know when to pack in.

    Simply not thought through.

    It’s shocking that after the Afghanistan and Iraq involvements, the people who run the country have no more sense than wilfully to land us in another mess which could easily create more problems than were there to begin with and be open ended.

  30. John Fradley
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    The simple questions are never answered by politicians…why are we involved in Libya at all when atrocities are happening world wide on a daily basis?
    Why are we giving money to Pakistan when they are a nuclear power…what do they give to us?
    It seems we are governed by idiots intent on following their own private agenda…this is not a democratic society.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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