I’m happy to admit that my knowledge of the Vietnam War is extremely limited but from what I have read basically the American’s (along with their allies) propped up the anti-communist forces in South Vietnam to stop the spread of Communism. They were unsuccessful. Our involvement in Libya was first of all to ensure that a bloodbath of historic proportions did not happen in Benghazi but in recent days it seems clear that the end game is to remove Gaddafi and that we are going to throw our hat in the ring with the rebels and hope to topple the leader of Libya.
Now I was and without a doubt still am convinced that we had to step in when we did. What kind of nation and people are we if we sat back and watched a City with around two-thirds of a million people living in it being burned to the ground and everyone in sight brutally massacred? We’d have been a pretty shitty nation is the answer. For those that believe that Gaddafi would have stopped short and not killed everyone in sight then please join the real world. He said he was doing to burn it to the ground and kill everyone who opposed him and we have absolutely no reason to believe that he would not have done.
The problem is now whilst this is a very winnable war – this isn’t a war we are involved in. As it stands it’s a Civil War with some outside assistance for one side. Allied forced could easily step in and topple Gaddafi but the problem with that is it isn’t our place to do so. You might say it wasn’t our place to step into Libya in the first place to stop a mass genocide but I disagree. Sometimes the bigger boys have to protect the little ones. If you saw a little kid getting bullied in the playground would you stand and watch as he was beaten up and had his head bogwashed? No you wouldn’t. Whilst you not might attack the bully yourself you would protect the kid. This is similar (although on a very simplistic and much smaller scale) to our current position in Libya.
The facts are that even with assistance from the air it is pretty much stalemate. No-one wins, no-one loses, the process just drags on and on. If we pull out completely then the mass genocide will happen – we’d have just put it off a few weeks, which isn’t really an option so the other option is decide how to end the Civil War with as little bloodshed as possible and seemingly with Gaddafi not in power. Not ann easy one and I do not envy anyone who has to make these decisions.
Gaddafi was not a major problem for the UK any more. We could ignore him and by doing so we’d have served our own best interests to the full. However that point has past and now whatever we do Gaddafi is a threat to the UK and other allied nations. His removal seems to be the end game so do we back the rebels or go in and take out Gaddafi and install and interim UN sanctioned government whilst free elections are held? Both outcomes may make both Libyans and the Arab World distinctly unhappy. To cut a long story short whatever we as a nation do – we’ll pee off somebody so we have to tread carefully.
Also it must be pointed out that our knowledge of these freedom fighter rebels is somewhat lacking and they might be just as bad as Gaddafi for both the Libyan people and the wider world. Gaddafi still wields a good amount of support amongst Libyans and if there were free elections he could win them. That possibility should not be discounted.
To sum up this is an extremely uneasy situation for all and it is unlikely to end well. We had to step in when we did but without a clear short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy then we cannot complete our supposed end game and nor can we abandon the Libyan rebels. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place and decisions have to be made. Things can’t jus drift along as that isn’t doing anyone any good. How to sort it I don’t know but the way things are going, we are involved in another situation where our end result may fall short of our goals.
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