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Monday 22 August 2011

Libya – Everybody’s Claiming Victory

Back in February, I predicted that the game was up for Muammar Gaddafi, after news emerged that his regime had been turning its heavy weaponry on its own people and had thereby engaged in casual mass murder. Moreover, I considered that if the legendarily flatulent Gaddafi did not go, and soon, the result could be as it was in Romania, only worse.

Now it seems that we are into the endgame: the kicking in of the rotten door is almost complete. And it is not out of any lack of firepower that Gaddafi’s forces have all but collapsed, but that they appear to have lost the stomach for the fight. The rebel forces – at the moment more or less united against a common enemy – are the ones who want to finish the job.

And, as it is only a matter of time before the Gaddafi era ends, the business has started of claiming victory and making appropriate modifications to recent history to suit the retelling. This has given considerable enjoyment thus far to those of a right leaning disposition, especially as the no-fly zone was championed by Young Dave and Nicolas Sarkozy.

This version of events conveniently omits the involvement of Democrat Barack Obama, and there’s more: the normalisation of relations between the West and the Gaddafi Government is then painted as some kind of act of treachery by Labour generally, and Tone specifically, with plenty of stick also given to Pa Broon, “Shagger” Prescott, Big Al, and anyone else in the vicinity.

Here, however, a problem enters: lifting of UN sanctions occurred from 2003, and the administration in Washington DC was not in any way left leaning, presided over as it was by “Dubya” Bush and his Veep “Dick” Cheney. When the Secretary of State visited Libya in 2008, it was Condi Rice who represented the USA. Then, as now, there was no uniform centre-left, or centre-right, alliance.

So while Young Dave and the constantly underestimated William ‘Ague deserve credit for their tenacity in getting the French on board early doors and then not only pitching their product to Barack Obama, but also making a sale, there is no “right good, left bad” to celebrate in the backstory.

And Cameron will know that being right about Gaddafi, and taking the action he did, will not guarantee domestic pay-off. What worked for Margaret Thatcher after the Falklands campaign did not pay off for Tone over Iraq. In any case, this one has a long way yet to run: now comes the need to secure the peace.

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