Cameron and Sarkozy’s Libyan Debacle 35


I wrote this on 25 March:

As predicted, the military action in Libya is going horribly wrong. The bombs and missiles are consolidating an undeserved nationalist support for Gadaffi and motivating more people to actually fight for him. The rebels are on the wrong end of ground battles and there is precious little evidence what majority opinion in Libya actually now wants. The western bombing forces are more and more involved in ground attack on pro-Gadaffi forces, and not only armour.

Our policy in Libya is in such disarray that I confess I have no idea what the policy is. I am quite certain that the “humanitarian intervention” motivation is a ruse to dupe the public in general and stupid liberals in particular. Johann Hari is not one of those, and this may be the finest thing he has ever written.

But NATO’s bombing has, as I predicted, only served to strengthen on nationalist grounds support for Gadaffi and the morale and activity of his forces. The vaunted ability of the rebels to sell oil will prove a short lived phenomenon as Gadaffi’s men sweep back through the oil installations.

Having achieved bugger all militarily, NATO are now out-manoeuvred comprehensively on the diplomatic front. Jacob Zuma and the African Union have negotiated a ceasefire deal and transitional government arrangement with Gadaffi, which Gadaffi has accepted and the rebels have refused.

Now, it is essential to bear in mind – which nobody in power is doing – that the aims of UNSCR 1973, from which NATO draws its mandate for the no fly zone and dubious claim of a mandate for attacking Gadaffi’s forces, are a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement. These are operative paragraphs 1 and 2:

1. Demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;
2. Stresses the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people and notes the decisions of the Secretary-General to send his Special Envoy to Libya and of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to send its ad hoc High-Level Committee to Libya with the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution;

Nowhere does UNSCR 1973 mandate regime change or insist that Gadaffi must go as the end result of negotiations. If Gadaffi has accepted an AU-brokered ceasfire, then he is in compliance with the UN Resolution. If the rebels have refused such a ceasefire, then they are in breach of UNSCR 1973 and it is they who are endangering civilians. It is the rebels who NATO should be attacking. Perhaps they will work out that it would be much better if they stopped attacking anybody, but I doubt it. They have chosen a side in this civil war, and military macho will propel them to continue to try to make that side win.

Let me be plain – I have no time for Gadaffi and would have been delighted if he had been overthrown by moral force, or even with a little violence, by his people, as in Egypt and Tunisia. But what we have now is a civil war in which it is by no means clear that Gadaffi’s opponents – including blood drenched senior ex Gadaffi regime members motivated by opportunism and possibly ethnicity – are going to put “good guys” in power.

NATO have no mandate to take sides in a civil war and propel their forces to victory. The aim of UNSCR 1973 is a ceasefire and negotiation.

There is no doubt that the CIA and MI6 are actively strengthening the determination of the rebels to resist a negotiated settlement, with promises of continued NATO air support and training, spotting, intelligence and other military assistance. They are therefore in direct violation of UNSCR 1973.

One sad thing in this is the complete lack of moral stature of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. He is mandated in UNSCR 1973 to be arranging negotiations, and those who enforce the no-fly zone are obliged under UNSCR 1973 to consult and cooperate with him. In fact he has done almost nothing and possesses absolutely none of the moral stature or personal charisma of Kofi Annan. Moon has no interest in anything but his stature and perks (UN staff call him the vainest Secretary General ever), and in making many millions from networking with the West for his retirement employment.

As NATO argue with complete illegality in Libya, I would call Moon the dog that did not bark. But that would be an insult to dogs.

All of which leaves Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama wedded to a policy which is completely contrary to UNSCR 1973, illegal, and still failing on the ground. They face a gigantic loss of face which can only be reversed by boots on the ground. My FCO sources tell me that they are already considering the officially unsanctioned provision of mercenary forces to the rebels. I asked whether there had been any discussion with Tim Spicer, and received a “I couldn’t possibly comment” response.


35 thoughts on “Cameron and Sarkozy’s Libyan Debacle

  • WikiSpooks

    Agreed on the Hari article. A lot of good stuff on the total moral bankruptcy of the 'UN Mandated' intervention is available. But, with the exception of that article, precious little is to be found in the Western MSM – whose role, as usual, is largely confined to cheeleading for the 'Official Narrative'.

    Here is a snip from another exception by John Pilger. A short, hard hitting and laser accurate demolition of our latter day Popinjay politicians:

    At its most rapacious, the British empire produced David Camerons in job lots. Unlike many of the Victorian “civilisers”, today’s sedentary Westminster warriors – throw in William Hague, Liam Fox and the treacherous Nick Clegg – have never been touched by the suffering and bloodshed which, at remove in culture and distance, are the consequences of their utterances and actions. With their faintly trivial, always contemptuous air, they are cowards abroad, as they are at home

    And it seems those rebels had access to lots of NATO-standard weaponry BEFORE the rebellion began: See Who is arming the Libyan Rebels?

  • Germanicus

    Very good piece.

    Really, this whole debacle is making Bush and Blair’s Iraq war look like a masterpiece of political and military planning. At least the invasion of Iraq was a success in the military sense, initially at any rate. We’re only a few weeks in to this war, and it’s already a complete dog’s dinner, militarily and diplomatically. I don’t think it’s out of the question that the West may yet arrive at some sort of deal with Qadhafi and/or his sons. Expect the type of furious backtracking which will make New Labour’s (literal) embrace of him as a statesman, look dignified by contrast.

  • Michael.K

    In a world that seems so corrupt and degenerate, it's nice to here from Craig, who appears, at times, like the last intelligent and moral being around, and his blogs like islands of sanity in vast sea of filthy lies that are disguised as truth. Sometimes our world seems like it's been gutted, everything's been inverted, turned inside out, and upside down, like we've fallen through the fabric of reality into a bizarre and perverse, and very, very, violent, colosally hypocritical – nightmare.

    Increasingly our politicians remind me of gansters in Old Chicago Town, carving up "territory" and the spoils.

    Ban Ki Moon is about the worst General Secretary there has ever been. "Whispering" Kofi wasn't my cup of tea, but he seems like a paragon of all the virtues compared to Moon who lacks all of Annan's qualities. The UN has been gutted, which is a great shame, because it had potential.

    I'm not a great fan of Gadaffi, to say the least, but as Middle East despots go, he's certainly not the worst of a pretty bad bunch. One could argue that he might even be the "best" of them, his standing in Africa is certainly second to none.

    But what is this sordid "imperial" intervention about then? I think we can dismiss the idea that it's about protecting civilians and human rights, out of hand. Is it part of a larger geo-political strategy? An attempt to establish a pro-western bridgehead in Africa that could open the way into Chad and Sudan and effectively push the Chinese aside? Clearly Africa is seen as a vast source of raw materials, and a potential market, by the Chinese. One could argue that Arica might, on balance, stand more chance of developing through closer ties to China, swapping raw materials in exchange for infra-structure projects.

    Do we just destroy countries for "fun", Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugosalvia, Libya, or is it part of a plan, that's unspoken, yet inevitable? We cut these countries into pieces thereby weakening them and making them easier to control? Gadaffi was in the way, because he was seen as being too "nationalistic" in relation to exploiting his country's oil and gas reserves, unwilling to open Libya, and too fond of playing the west against the Chinese, so… he had to go. Is that how it hangs together?

    • Craig_Murray

      I don't think it was that thought through. The oil is a target of opportunity, but I think mostly it was an on the hoof attempt to rein in and then take control of the Arab spring.

  • Germanicus

    I'm inclined to agree with Craig that this 'intervention' has been motivated more by a desire to put the brakes on the Arab spring rather than to control the oil resources – though the latter is certainly a powerful motivation too. If it were just an oil grab, the GCC states like Qatar and the UAE would never have got overtly involved, but they did here.

    Either way, this whole fiasco is beginning to make Iraq look like a masterpiece of strategic and military planning. At least that war was successful in the initial invasion, even if it quickly went belly up thereafter. Only a few weeks into this 'intervention', however, and it's already looking like a dog's dinner. I don't think it's impossible that some sort of deal may be reached whereby Qadhafi and/or his sons gets to stayin power. If that happens, expect some furious backpeddling which will make Nu Labour's (literal) embrace of Qadhafi a few years ago seem dignified by comparison.

    • willyrobinson

      Good post.

      Big oil companies like Total who were based in Libya lost their wells, pipelines, refineries and drilling rights as I understand it. Just a setback for those boys, but it's worth bearing in mind that 'strategic resource…whatever' is a short to medium term kick in the balls for big oil. If oil supply generally is the goal, then Iraq is hardly the best model, but that's what they're contriving.

      So…what Germanicus said.

  • anno

    Drink Muslim blood. Break Muslim customs. C'est normale pour nous. France's religious persecution of protestant Huguenots and their brutal colonial history makes them well qualified to work for Obama against African Muslims while his evil empire undergoes cosmetic surgery. Doesn't mean the US or it's cronies aren't finished though.

  • Eddie-G

    I think Gaddafi's popularity with, especially, sub-Saharan African leaders, has been terribly under-reported.

    Gaddafi has spent/invested quite generously across the continent, and South Africa's leaders have always had time for him after the way he supported the ANC during the apartheid years. So to see Jacob Zuma, a venomous political snake but a lot more astute than people give him credit, put together a ceasefire proposal should not have come as a huge surprise.

    I understood and accepted the rationale for intervention when Gaddafi's forces appeared to be closing in on Benghazi and the rhetoric pointed to a massacre. But if Zuma's plan is now rejected out of hand, the moral case of the West disintegrates and so will international support for the intervention. Whatever the European leaders think about this, I'd be interested to see Obama's next move, he has seemed least keen on intervention and this might give him an excuse to dial-back US involvement.

    • CheebaCow

      "I'd be interested to see Obama's next move, he has seemed least keen on intervention and this might give him an excuse to dial-back US involvement. "

      We can only "hope". I'm confident we will be disappointed. Obama has expanded the scope of the GWOT greatly since Bush left, and failed to exit Iraq and Afghanistan. He seems keen on intervention to me.

      • Eddie-G

        Agree on your general point, I should have been more clear that it seemed Obama was less keen on intervention in Libya than his European chums (certainly not arguing he is non-interventionist generally!). From what I have read, the US military was not at all keen on Libya, diplomats like Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice were very keen on the idea, and the latter eventually prevailed. But I have never gotten the impression that Obama was anything more than tepid in his support of the action.

        • Germanicus

          BTW I'm not sure Obama is all that 'less keen on intervention'. I think he has just been playing a clever game – pretending to take a back seat and thus avoiding much of the diplomatic and political fallout from American involvement in yet another war on a Muslim country. Remember that about half of the sorties over Libya have been flown by US planes.

          • Eddie-G

            I think the latter part of your post perfectly explains why you'd expect him to be reluctant! Both for the political risk, and the level of commitment it would entail. He may well be playing a clever game, but he may also want out of Libya.

    • WikiSpooks

      "I understood and accepted the rationale for intervention when Gaddafi's forces appeared to be closing in on Benghazi and the rhetoric pointed to a massacre"

      No offense intended – HONEST – but that is yet another illustration of the gullibility that our Machiavellian Deep State knows it can rely on. 'Humanitarian Intervention' is just the latest and – circumstances permitting its use – the most effective in a well-thumbed catalogue of good plausible stories to justify actions deemed necessary by the REAL – and always hidden – agenda.

      Above Craig opines that this is less about oil and more about 'containing the Arab Spring'; which rather begs the question why 'containing the Arab Spring' should be judged necessary if not pre-eminently because of – you guessed it – OIL ( and in the Libyan case the Nubian Aquifer and historic refusal of Gadhaffi to 'see things the West's way' – scores to be settled and so on)?

      Of one thing you can be absolutely certain. The Official narrative is nothing more nor less than the Establishment's best stab at co-opting a perennially gullible public to action whose real reason is hidden; it is ALWAYS deceptive, by definition – and in matters of foreign policy grossly so. Our Permanent Government could not give a shit – and I use the word advisedly – about Libyan civilians (other than for the reasons outlined above) and anyone who seriously believes it does has a lot of growing up to do.

      • Eddie-G

        Look, I am not silly enough to think that "humanitarian intervention" explains the full story as to why we are involved in Libya. But as a rationale, it was good enough to be accepted by the Security Council, and it is not without any basis in reality.

        The argument Craig has put forward here about "taking control of the Arab Spring" is far and away the most compelling – you simply can't look at Libya in isolation, and the contrast with places like Bahrain is stark. I don't think that our government, in general, has much particular interest in the welfare of Libyan civilians, but that by appearing to show an interest in their well-being, they think they can create some space to buttress more reliable allies in the region.

        I don't think it will work for any sustained length of time, and it will break down very quickly if it becomes clear we are operating to double standards in Libya. And that has just happened, with the response to the AU proposal.

    • YugoStiglitz

      "I think Gaddafi's popularity with, especially, sub-Saharan African leaders, has been terribly under-reported."

      You fucking fascist. They said the same things of Hitler.

      Only on Craig Murray's blog!

      • Eddie-G

        Oh great. Straight to Godwin.

        This might be too much for your brain to take in, but I'll give this a try anyway. Commenting on the fact that Gaddafi has friends across Africa is not the same thing as approving of those ties. Got it?

      • Jon

        Yugo, everyone is welcome to post here, whether they agree with the broad political direction of the board or not. But it is entirely possible to disagree without becoming abusive on each contribution, and yet your post history reveals a great deal of antagonism. We've used a small amount of moderation here before to keep people civil to each other, and I'll use it on your input if I have to. Please treat people with respect!

  • Michael.K

    Just one of the questions here, is, how much international support is there for our "intervention"? Does the "international community" really exist?

    It would appear that almost all of Latin American is against it. Africa is against it. Germany, Russia, China, India, against. There's a great deal of scepticism in the Muslim world… so who supports the intervention?

    Well, perhaps understandbly, the anti-Gadaffi rebels, a few vulture-like Gulf States, Saudi Arabia… and surprise, surprise, those nations that are attacking Libya, but one wouldn't notice any of this "audit" if one read the UK media, who give us the impression we are leading a crusade for freedom against a universally hated tyrant.

  • somebody

    Did Cleggover really do this?

    Three years ago, in Helmand, I watched Nick Clegg present a battle plan to the British military. Unfortunately, it seems to be following it. The plan was a crayon and felt tip scrawl by one of his sons, who'd made his father promise to give it to the army. Handed over to amuse, it suggested that the baddies hidden beneath mountains could be fought by a few soldiers piling from a helicopter. We smiled at the juvenile simplicity.

    Now, in Helmand, the military are doing just this. They call their murderous night raids against insurgents a bold strategy for success, when really the intensification of violence is evidence of failure. We are, as David Miliband will warn in a speech on Wednesday, trapped in a war with no plan other than to kill as many baddies as we can before fleeing.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/apr/
    Few politicians say it, but most think it: our Afghan war is a disaster
    The army is on the Soviet occupiers' path, with less success. What follows may be worse. All we can do, perhaps, is go

  • YugoStiglitz

    Obviously, before you knew the details of the deal that Qaddafi was purported to make with the African Union, you were in favor of that deal. You were also in favor of taking Qaddafi at his word.

    You seem to be in favor of (i) the slaughter of Libyan rebel forces, (ii) the failure of NATO's attempt to avert the slaughter of Libyan rebel forces, and (iii) the continuation of the Qaddafi regime in North Africa.

    You're someone who will give Qaddafi every chance, and Obama exactly no chance.

    • Jon

      There's several errors of logic here, Yugo. Over a long period of reading Craig – here and on paper – I think it's fair to say that Craig's one of the good guys, whether or not your views coincide with his (mine do, on most things). So the suggestion that he "is in favour of … the slaughter of Libyan rebel forces" is highly unlikely, as is being "in favour of … the continuation of the Qaddafi regime…". Especially if he writes "I have no time for Gadaffi and would have been delighted if he had been overthrown by moral force, or even with a little violence, by his people".

      As evgueni says, Obama's had his chance: his message of hope metamorphosed into militarism, torture support and bankster bankrolling in short order. In effect, Obama became Bush – and I was one of the people who thought he might be different.

      But it seems that you have turned up a few times before, to pour opprobrium and scorn on a variety of topics. Why the hostility? I should be genuinely interested in discovering what your motivation is. (One or two have suggested that you might be our previous jouster, Larry from St. Louis. Say it ain't so!)

  • somebody

    Have a listen to this Larry/Yugo.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_94550

    Nato defence ministers will today discuss how to get Colonel Gaddafi to stand down. Jeremy Bowen reports on the "real possibility" of a long conflict in Libya.

    And Oliver Miles, former UK ambassador to Libya, reflects on a statement by the former Libyan foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, that the country could become a failed state.

    • Craig_Murray

      Oliver is a good amn – he argued strongly against the no-fly zone and the whole venture, as against the Iraq war. He has an even cleverer wife!

  • Ivan K.

    Craig: "Let me be plain – I have no time for Gadaffi and would have been delighted if he had been overthrown by moral force, or even with a little violence, by his people, as in Tunisia or Egypt."

    When I read this line, especially "I have no time for"… I immediately got an image of a small boy that plays with figurines, imagining himself as a world ruler.

    You don't have to devote any time for Gadaffi,… nor could your despising him be very relevant in the discussion.

    Otherwise, we agree.

  • Mark

    'They face a gigantic loss of face which can only be reversed by boots on the ground'.
    The petulant foot-stamping we are seeing today from Juppe & Hague, calling for an 'intensification' of NATO's military campaign, supports Craig's prediction.
    Both foreign ministers are also ignoring, with contempt, the AU's ceasefire proposal. The AU's plea to the Transitional National Council (TNC), repeated today, to reconsider its rejection of a ceasefire with Qaddafi's forces, has got the UK and France rattled. A stalemate that leaves Qaddafi in place and the military balance frozen, might be the best outcome on humanitarian grounds, but would be a humiliation for NATO's chief 'European partners'.

  • Ivan K.

    Craig: "Let me be plain – I have no time for Gadaffi and would have been delighted if he had been overthrown by moral force, or even with a little violence, by his people, as in Tunisia or Egypt."

    Regarding the above quote, I wrote a comment and clicked on Submit. Nothing directly offensive, but it wasn't published. I'll respond to the quote again but this time in a different way.

    The phrase "I have no time for" denotes impatience and/or contempt for a particular thing or person. How much are English speakers inclined to express such attitudes toward various politicians? Just now I made the following Google web searches:

    "i have no time for gadaffi" About 498 results
    "i have no time for gaddaffi" About 5,880 results
    "i have no time for bush" 7 results
    "i have no time for gwb" 1 result
    "i have no time for george w bush" No results found
    "i have no time for sarkozy" 1 result
    "i have no time for berlusconi" 3 results

    At this point in the searches, I came to a tentative idea that the very disproportionate contempt expressed (in relation to politician's harmfulness, duration in office in Web times, etc.) is a result of bias against Third world leaders.
    However, the following five results suggested that I should abandon that idea:

    "I have no time for museveni" 1 result
    "i have no time for jacob zuma" 3 results
    "i have no time for zuma" 1 result
    "I have no time for saddam" 3 results
    "I have no time for Mbeki" 1 result

    "I have no time for Obama"? 7 results

    I won't pretend I can explain fully why does Gaddaffi provoke such particular ire.

    • Craig_Murray

      Hi Ivan,

      by chance I approved it 5 mins ago – and replied to it. For technical reasons connected to reloading the old comments to the new format, comment moderation is on till that process finishes – some weeks I am afraid. Once you have had several comments approved the software gives you a pass automatically.

  • felix

    So it took Hari 6 weeks to realise that we weren't being told the truth about Libya? Let's see if he has the courage to dig and question the rest of the MSM a bit more deeply should we?

  • WikiSpooks

    "I understood and accepted the rationale for intervention when Gaddafi's forces appeared to be closing in on Benghazi and the rhetoric pointed to a massacre"

    The above quote was from a comment that has since been deleted, which appears to have had the effect of deleting my reply to it as well. So here it is posted stand-alone:

    No offense intended – HONEST – but that [The above quote] is yet another illustration of the gullibility that our Machiavellian Deep State knows it can rely on. 'Humanitarian Intervention' is just the latest and – circumstances permitting its use – the most effective in a well-thumbed catalogue of good plausible stories to justify actions deemed necessary by the REAL – and always hidden – agenda.

    Above Craig opines that this is less about oil and more about 'containing the Arab Spring'; which rather begs the question why 'containing the Arab Spring' should be judged necessary if not pre-eminently because of – you guessed it – OIL ( and in the Libyan case the Nubian Aquifer and historic refusal of Gadhaffi to 'see things the West's way' – scores to be settled and so on)?

    Of one thing you can be absolutely certain. The Official narrative is nothing more nor less than the Establishment's best stab at co-opting a perennially gullible public to action whose real reason is hidden; it is ALWAYS deceptive, by definition – and in matters of foreign policy grossly so. Our Permanent Government could not give a shit – and I use the word advisedly – about Libyan civilians (other than for the reasons outlined above) and anyone who seriously believes it does has a lot of growing up to do.

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