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Wednesday 9 March 2011

Who should determine the Future of Libya?

This evening, the panellists on Radio 4's 'The Moral Maze' debated the pros and cons and rights and wrongs of potential military intervention in Libya. Much of the debate thus centred upon a cluster of issues connected to state sovereignty, international law, Just War Theory and human rights. Ultimately, it was a debate that revolved around the central question of 'who should determine the future of Libya?'

For me, there can only be one answer to this question: the Libyan people themselves. Libyan sovereignty is under contention, with Gaddafi attempting to retain the state as his personal domain, whilst a popular uprising seeks to wrest control from him in the name of the Libyan people. Clearly, for a democratic nationalist the right to determine the future lies with the latter, not with a despot and his clique. What is equally clear however is that it is up to the Libyan people to determine that outcome and to establish their own post-Gaddafi government; it is not the business of the UN, NATO, the Gulf Co-operation Council, members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference or any other nation individually or in league with others to determine the future governance of Libya. Those who seek to overthrow the Gaddafi order have made it quite clear that they do not want foreign intervention, and any contravention of this request constitutes a violation of national sovereignty and democratic right.
The clamour for foreign intervention against Gaddafi is growing, emanating from a number of governments and those who advocate the deeply flawed approach that goes by the name of ‘humanitarian interventionism’. Unfortunately, the British government is foremost amongst those advocating military intervention, and David Cameron has made clear that all military options are under consideration including the deployment of ground troops. My primary objection to such an approach has already been made: any such action would constitute an intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation-state, but there are many more good reasons not to intervene:
  • Firstly, there is no British national security interest at stake in Libya.  
  • Secondly, any intervention by the UK, NATO or any other Western state or coalition thereof would be used by Gaddafi to rally Libyans to his cause by pointing to this as evidence of a ‘Western imperialist’ plot to depose him and subjugate Libya to their interests.  
  • Thirdly, the argument that we should intervene upon so-called ‘humanitarian grounds’ is spurious, for if such grounds are to be used as justification to wage war on regimes around the globe, might not equal or better cases be made for war against North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Burma or China?  
  • Fourthly, Western intervention in another Muslim majority state would recruit even more zealots to the international jihadist movement.  
  • Fifthly, once Gaddafi was toppled, what objectives would any intervening power or coalition possess with a view to the reconstitution of the Libyan political order? Might it not prove to be as intractable and violent a quagmire as Iraq or Afghanistan? Where are the clear strategic objectives? There appear to be none. 
  • Sixthly, military intervention always involves ‘collateral damage’. Given this, even Libyans who might conceivably call upon outside powers to intervene, could subsequently come to hate and resent them.  
  • Seventhly, we are bankrupt and our armed forces have just been slashed and are militarily overstretched.
The case for the UK's potentially disastrous intervention in Libya appears to be driven by a fundamental lack of clear-headed strategic thinking regarding our national security. The Conservative Party, the FCO and RUSI all appear to have been infected by the globalist bacillus and its affiliated virus of 'humanitarian interventionism'. Our national security priorities should above all be national. We should thus focus upon securing our borders, eradicating pirates (yes, the pirates themselves, for without pirates there can be no piracy) and maintaining a suitable deterrent to ensure that we are never attacked by another state. Withdrawal from NATO should also be a top priority. We have no right to interfere in the affairs of other states, just as they have no right to interfere in our sovereign affairs. Libya for the Libyans, and Britain for the Britons. Show me someone who objects to that, and I’ll show you an anti-democrat.  

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