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Good news from Libya?

I hope the reports of rebel triumph prove to be the case… and kudos to the UK and France for helping things along whist also resisting the urge to get too deeply involved.

But that said, I cannot help but hope the dirty secrets now emerge of how overseas politicians aided and abetted Qadaffi over the years, in particularly the disgusting deal over Abdelbaset al Megrahi. It would be wonderful to see the polities in England and Scotland take one in the face if the unlovely details eventually come out.

17 comments to Good news from Libya?

  • Regarding Abdelbaset al Megrahi, it’s a shame that the US aren’t more deeply involved in this ‘regime change’ as it would have been nice to see this dubious character dragged off by a SEAL team and dumped in either Gitmo or a New York federal court room.

    See how long he survives after being sentenced to 92-life sentences plus 100-years.

    That would wife the smile of his face.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Hmmm. It would be interesting to know what are the chances of Libya being run on rather more humane lines than has been the case for the past 42 years of Gadaffi’s regime (by the way, there seem to be about 5 different ways to spell his name). Libya is, so the pundits say, a tribal society; nature abhors vacuums, etc.

    The oil price has gone down a bit.

    I guess even Obama gets some credit, although his decision not to consult Congress means that there is little desire in the US to give him much credit.

    I wonder how Blair is adjusting that photo album with that shot of him and the lunatic holding hands in a tent. He’ll never live that down.

    Alas, none of this will bring back the victims of Lockerbie.

  • Yes, I was thinking last night that it’s a hell of a relief to see what looks to be actual good news on the telly, even if the place does all go to hell during the next year or so. At least Gdaffy is now getting a little of what he deserves.

    I recall writing here at the time the intervention began that it might do some actual good, unlike most state initiatives. And have been worrying about that rather impulsively expressed hope ever since. I am pleased that this original hunch still might be right.

  • phwest

    I hestitate to give Obama much credit for the outcome only because Libya is such a small (population) country – there was never really any question that Qadaffi could be removed if we were willing to spend the resources. In the end, the approach taken was really not that different from the ousting of the Taliban, with easier access balancing out the lack of a more organized local force.

    As with Iraq and Afghanistan, the real key is controlling the aftermath. If that ends up a mess, this will be no more than a “Mission Accomplished” moment.

  • RW

    phwest is right that, given the resources, Qadaffi could be removed. Libya is a straightforward target: most of the small population is in various enclaves in a strip 1,000 miles long and 20 miles wide, few sectarian differences, tribes mostly physically separated, collateral damage relatively easy to avoid.

    My fear is that some do-gooder nutter tries to intervene in Syria (a country I have quite a lot of affection for, by the way). Syria would be Lebanon writ large: lots of religions each with their own factions, lots of tribes, all forming virtual communities in a physically small country, lots of historical grudges, lots of aggressive neighbours…

  • guy herbert

    Re: Abdelbaset al Megrahi

    I think the more interesting dodgy deal was the one made for his original trial, whereby Libya would give up certain suspects to a pre-arranged process, and the UK and the US would stop looking for anyone else. (The evidence at the trial was astonishingly tenuous, nonetheless.) And this politically paved the way for UK and US détente with Libya over the next few years.

    The Libyan suspects were only indicted in 1991. Prior to that most of the suspicions pointed to the airliner having been bombed by Syrians, possibly at Iranian instigation. But the US relationship with Syria had been revolutionised by Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and the 1990-91 Gulf War, in which Syria became part of the coalition, and the commencement of the Madrid Conference process.

    Whether or not there was something dodgily convenient in the FO and State Department changing their minds about the source of the bomb, the deal was a good deal for Ghaddafi. He got rapid rehabilitation in return for sacrificing the freedom of two loyal secret policemen (in practice, one), and a paltry few millions in compensation.

  • Aetius

    Re: Abdelbaset Al Megrahi

    Guy Herbert is right about his trial coming out of a dodgy deal.

    The whole trial of Al Megrahi and his co-accused was an insult to our intelligence. The Lockerbie crime was commissioned by the leader or leadership of a middle-eastern state, but only two intelligence agents were in the dock.

    Furthermore, the obvious candidate for ultimately commissioning the crime was Iran, particularly, given the Iranian airliner mistakenly shot down by the US navy.

    One is left with the suspicion that Libya was blamed, because it was weak enough to be pushed around, but not hated enough to require a regime changing war.

    Had the US accused Iran of Lockerbie, America’s only option, especially given all that had happened since the Tehran embassy hostage taking at the time of the revolution, would have been regime changing war, which would have involved a major effort.

    Having said that I don’t know which state or states commissioned Lockerbie.

  • Steve

    Agreed about the Megrahi deal Perry, and I carry no torch for Gaddhafi, but should prefer to reserve judgement on whether the announced ‘rebel triumph’ constitutes good news or not.
    Maybe I’m just a grumpy old cynic, but haven’t we been here before? One gang of AK47 wielding thugs take over from another, hey ho, business as usual in the Middle East. Always much much emotional talk of ‘the people’ and their ‘historic victory’.
    I often think of Uncle Digory in ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, when consulted by Peter and Susan about their concern over Lucy’s supposed lying about Narnia saying something like: ‘ we could all try minding our own business’.
    I don’t suppose in this busybody age that that might be a good general principle of international relations?
    No, thought not…

  • Agreed about the Megrahi deal Perry, and I carry no torch for Gaddhafi, but should prefer to reserve judgement on whether the announced ‘rebel triumph’ constitutes good news or not.

    At worst the new regime will be as bad as the old, at best it will be better. Even the worst case leaves things no worse off -> so I am all for the current state of affairs.

    I don’t suppose in this busybody age that that might be a good general principle of international relations?

    No, not really. That only works when *everyone* minds their own businesses. And as I am not much of a statist (i.e. I am a minarchist) or any kind of nationalist, I do not accept that states are super-moral entities that justly allow people to *not* mind their own business just so long as the people they interfere with are within some lines on a map.

    If I see someone beating a child to death on private property, if I am able to I am not inclined to mind my own business just because I am very much in favour of private property… I apply much the same logic to states with the even greater lack of concern for their ‘rights’ as states are not even private property but rather ‘zones with designated looting rights assigned’.

  • Laird

    And you’re welcome to rush in and save them, Perry. Just not with money stolen from me.

  • And you’re welcome to rush in and save them, Perry. Just not with money stolen from me.

    And when when get get to the post-national phase, that would be great, as I will have a much higher personal defence budget.

    But here in 2011, given that the state has purchased all these toys with my (and your) stolen money, I much prefer to see it used bombing Gadaffi than paying for sink estates in London.

  • Steve

    Those ‘lines on a map’ you dismiss surely represent cultural realities it would be foolish and arrogant to ignore. I live in France, and cannot pretend it’s England. I must speak in French, and have respect for a different way of life.
    I don’t actually think there are not exceptions to minding our own business. Just, my threshhold is high for intervening, and I’m not clear that it was crossed by the Libyan clown. I think it may well turn out to be worse than before, and additionally do not see why we had to spend our bombs when the Middle East is awash with AK 47s and the men to use them. They are keen enough when it’s us they want to shoot.
    As for the ‘stolen money’, last time I looked we were having a slight shortage of the stuff, no? Maybe train a few more engineers and scientists with it. It’s not as if we had to spend it on welfare or warfare.

    Having said all that, let’s drink to Libya without Gaddafi. At least he does seem to be history, and you never know, it might work…

  • Those ‘lines on a map’ you dismiss surely represent cultural realities it would be foolish and arrogant to ignore. I live in France, and cannot pretend it’s England. I must speak in French, and have respect for a different way of life.

    French… or Arabic depending on which part of France :-)

    And I know some Occitan speaking people in Aquitaine who also regard France as a foreign occupying power (yes I know I am being facetious but I am not joking that I know people who actually think that)…

    …but sure, I am not really denying countries have ‘cultural identities’, just that I do not see why that means the political class which presides over a country should have some special super-moral privileges to do bad things to people which somehow morally outrank people who might wish to stop them doing doing said bad things but who come from outside that region.

    As for the ‘stolen money’, last time I looked we were having a slight shortage of the stuff, no? Maybe train a few more engineers and scientists with it. It’s not as if we had to spend it on welfare or warfare.

    Oh good god no! Spending state money to “train a few more engineers and scientists” is just welfare for a different set of people.

  • Laird

    “Spending state money to “train a few more engineers and scientists” is just welfare for a different set of people.”

    True enough, Perry, but it’s our people, not strangers a half a world away. If my government is going to presume to steal my money, I’d feel at least somewhat better about it if it were spent upon my neighbors. And having a few more engineers and scientists might actually benefit me at some point.

  • True enough, Perry, but it’s our people, not strangers a half a world away.

    ‘Our’ people? Why? Do you know them? What makes them more deserving of my appropriated money than some Libyan?

    People talk about ‘blowback’ as a consequence of state action…well seems to me the most likely people to cause ‘blowback’ from the way my tax money is spent are the once who live in Britain.

  • Laird

    “Our” people because we’re all subjects of the same rapacious government. All of us live in the same box (which, in my case, is different from your box). Keep my stolen money in my box. Let the other boxes take care of themselves.

  • To me ‘our’ people are people who share the same vital interests as I do (material and otherwise). Even in the absence of the all-intrusive governments, such interests more often than not are naturally subject to geographic distances and boundaries. It is true that modern technology is changing that, but that process still has quite a long way to go.