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It Is Not ‘Mission Accomplished’ In Libya

By Leslie Clark
October 22nd, 2011 at 11:10 am | Comments Off on It Is Not ‘Mission Accomplished’ In Libya | Posted in International Politics

We can all rejoice that the Arab world has lost another brutal tyrant despite the grizzly manner of his downfall. But only the most politically jejune would say ‘freedom’ has arrived in Libya.  

Drawing on his experiences in Bosnia, Lord Ashdown has stated that the rule of law is the most important factor for building the peace in Libya:

The establishment of the rule of law – perhaps even martial law at first – which then develops over time into a reliable legal, judicial and prosecutorial structure based on the cultural norms of the country, is the essential framework for the security people need and for economic activity.”

And as he says, “elections can wait.”

There is far more to democracy than the mere act of placing a cross in a box. Unbelievably for a tribal country that has no history for democracy, Mahmoud Jibril believes Libyans should be able to vote within eight months.

A sustainable democratic future not only requires the rule of law but a sizeable propertied middle class, a free press, political pluralism, an open market economy and a flourishing civil society. That will take decades to come to fruition. Libya won’t be transformed into the Norway of North Africa anytime soon.

It’s hardly ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Libya.


Green Revolutionaries Hit Capitol Hill

By Julian Harris
April 26th, 2011 at 11:17 am | 8 Comments | Posted in Environment, International Politics

Can we really be sanctioning the murder?

By Angela Harbutt
March 22nd, 2011 at 7:43 am | 6 Comments | Posted in International Politics

We at Liberal Vision usually agree – but on Libya it appears we don’t.

From over here this looks like a mess of gigantic proportions. We seem to have gone from a United Nations agreement some 3 days ago to install a “no fly zone” over Libya – to a policy that appears to allow the military to do anything and everything they like, from bombing Libya at will – taking out swathes of Tripoli and elsewhere – to murdering the current head of state. Talk about mission-creep.

But ludicrously it appears not to be the military with the blood lust – but the British Government. 

General Richards appears on TV stating that the murdering of the Libyan leader “is not allowed under the UN resolution..” . Phew thinks I (not entirely sure how a “no fly zone” policy can have escalated quite that quickly to UN sanctioned murder in just a couple of days)… Only then to be told that Downing Street and Foreign Office officials were saying the General was wrong– and that assassinating Gaddafi is legal because it would preserve civilian lives in Libya.

And Government  disagreement with the General does not come just from “un-named sources”. William Hague (who surely cannot last in his role much longer) has point-blank refused, when asked, to rule out murdering of Gaddafi. “It all depends on how people behave”he said. Does it ? Really? Is that really what the UN thought it was agreeing to ? Do we really think they will hold the rest of the Middle East in this unholy alliance whilst squabbling on tv about the legality of murdering a head of state?

So the British Army thinks we can’t murder Gaddafi – the British Government believes we can.

Am I the only one who is worried here?

Is this really what Cameron was talking about on Friday? Did I miss the part of the speech when he said we would murder the head of state, bomb Libya to hell and well do pretty much anything we like but don’t worry chaps it’s all ok providing we don’t actually put our dirty great International Coalition boots on the sand?

Then again we clearly DO have dirty great big Coalition boots on Libyan soil…. we have been told that at least one 3 storey building in Tripoli was destroyed by a missile from HMS Triumph because it was identified as a “crucial target” by “British special forces operating deep behind enemy lines”. What else are they likely to do whilst they are out there I wonder?

And whilst I think it would be very nice if plan A occurs…and Gaddafi supporters do all “lay down their arms ” and join the forces of light. Supposing they don’t? Can I ask what plans Mr Hague and Fox have in the event of massacre the other way round?  What if the Revolutionary Council or it’s followers decide to march on Tripoli – as they are being encouraged to do – and start murdering the wives and children of Gaddafi followers? Is that OK ? Or does Mr Hague believe that UN sanction 1973 allows us to start assassinating them too?

Surely this is already spirallng out of control. ? I may be in the minority right now. But I believe this whole plan to be ill-conceived, poorly planned and showing every sign on going hellishly wrong.

They will fight in the shade

By Andy Mayer
March 18th, 2011 at 9:48 am | 2 Comments | Posted in International Politics

The UN Security Council’s decision to agree not just a ‘no-fly zone’, but “all necessary measures”, against expectations of a Russian veto, is remarkable and welcome.

The UK will be involved, and on this occasion in a dispute that is legal. Many lives will be lost, but many more will be saved from murder and torture at the hands of the incumbent Government. It is hoped the pressure will break the loyalty of government forces quickly and encourage the Gaddafis to flee.

We cannot know that. We cannot predict how many casulties will be suffered in the process of destroying Libyan armour and air defences. We do not know whether the Opposition will come to be dominated by liberal democrats or militant zealots. War is a conversation in the language of unintended consequences.

It is though a moment of hope, for millions of Libyans in their darkest hour, as the drone of  engines close in on their last redoubts in Benghazi and Misratah.

This is still their civil war to win. The international community has not offered to disarm mercenaries in Tripoli. But at least they will fight in the shade of our warbirds.

All our hopes for a swift resolution are with the brave men and women who are to provide that cover, fight on the ground, and negotiate peace when the outcome is clear. The long overdue global collapse of authoritarianism inched a little closer today.

What next for Egypt?

By Andy Mayer
February 12th, 2011 at 11:17 am | Comments Off on What next for Egypt? | Posted in International Politics

The resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the most populous Arab state, following weeks of protests is a fantastic day for the millions that made it happen, and we hope the progress of liberty and democracy.

This is not assured. The Egyptian military is in charge in the interim, Mubarak’s apparatus of power remains intact, and building a consensus for a new constitution amongst opposition factions will be painful.

Islamists and secularists have different ideas about fundamental liberties and pluralism. Many of the middle-class protesters leading the chants this month, helped keep Mubarak in power previously, precisely to avoid government by the populist movement represented by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of the bright-eyed revolutionary socialists interviewed by the BBC this week are certain to not get what they want.

It is reasonable to expect though, given the impetus, some kind of pluralist democracy will emerge. The street are unlikely to accept another dictator. The army so far have expressed an interest in stability not any particular outcome. Most protesters will now want to get back to work.

That government will face large internal reform challenges; and difficult foreign policy questions over their relationship with Israel, their new position within the League of Arab States, and a host of new and old friends from the US to China waving their chequebooks in gestures of commercial solidarity.

We will be amongst them. The UK currently imports around £0.5bn of Egyptian goods and exports just under £1bn every year. The opportunities for growth in energy and financial services are not trivial, and Egypt’s economy is far more diversified than most neighbours.

Some of the reporting of the last few weeks has highlighted the Mubarak regime’s relative economic competence. This should not be overstated. It is certainly true they reformed and replaced some of the Marxist central planning legacy of the Sadat era, and have seen inflation fall from a decade of rates over 15%. But with GDP per head at just $5-6,000, 10% unemployment, double digit deficits, and GDP rates closer to Western European than Chinese or Indian levels, they clearly did not achieve the kind of catch-up growth seen in the latter, nor the commodity growth of wealthy Arab nations. We can also reasonably expect a ousted regime to leave a few nasty surprises and loot what they can.

Egypt’s largely young, often poor, but well educated population will expect this to change under the new government. This is a nation of untapped potential yearning for the freedom to prove themselves in the world.

We all must hope the tensions inevitable failures and set-backs will cause does not lead the government to resort to the easy option of blaming and attacking foreign influence. Egypt needs external support to grow, and growth is ultimately what will fund reform and the reduction of external tensions. Let us hope whichever new Leaders emerge have the gifts to turn those aspirations into lasting change.