Oil war or humanitarian mission?

I’ve woken up today to hear we’re in yet another war to protect oil supplies, this time in Libya.

What’s actually happening is that a bunch of dodgy people are trying to take control from the existing a dodgy government by force of arms. The UN (a label of convenience) is weighing in on the side of the anti-government faction that controls the oil fields (or did yesterday, things are moving fast). The excuse is that they’re protecting civilians.

Now this is something of a civil war. There are four groups involved. Firstly there are the government forces. They’re not civilians and it’s their job to protect the state. If we had an armed uprising in the UK (such as the IRA), the state army is there to protect the government. The Libyan army likewise.

The second group are the anti-state “army”. Actually they’re not an army; they’re several groups of civilians with guns and bombs. The state army is defending the state against them, as would be expected. Is the UN protecting these “civilians” from the state army? It looks like it; or more specifically the UN is providing military support to this groups, against the government.

The third and fourth groups are the pro and anti-government civilians. By siding with the anti-government lot (simplistically, those in the east) you could argue that you’re protecting those civilians, but as you’re not (apparently) protecting the pro-government civilians in Tripoli from the rebels, it’s a very thin argument.

All governments in the region are dodgy (Israel is the only real democracy as we know it). The rebels are dodgy. It’s a dodgy place, and there are dodgy people around. It’s the way things are, and we should be leaving them alone. Otherwise we’re imposing our version how things should be on someone else. But unfortunately a lot of these places are financed by the oil we’re dependent on buying from them, which is what makes Libya a special case (along with Iraq).

Pretending that it’s a “no fly” zone for humanitarian reasons, basically siding with the rebels, is a scandal. If we’re going to war we should be honest about the reasons, not making them up after the event (like Blair and Bush). And if they think they’re backing the right horse with military support and they’ll be rewarded later, they know nothing about the culture in that region. I’m not even sure they’ve backed the right horse; Gaddafi’s government doesn’t roll over easily.

Cameron on Gaddafi – it’s personal

I’ve just watched David Cameron being interviewed about the situation in Libya. He’s saying things like “Stop Col. Gaddafi”, and “Col. Gaddafi is brutalising his people”, referring to Libya’s stated compliance with a ceasefire.

This is worrying. Col. Gaddafi isn’t attacking civilians, repressing his people or doing any of the other things David Cameron and Barak Obama are accusing him of. HE is sitting in an office. Elsewhere in Libya there are people with differing interests fighting each other. It’s called a civil war.

When our politicians refer to such problems in terms of a specific personality, such as Col. Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein or even Adolf Hitler we’re in for trouble. It’s not one person creating the situation, but a sizeable group of people with a vested interest. They’re missing the point. Or more likely, they’re hoping we’ll miss it.

No Fly zone in Libya is a bad idea

EU Foreign Ministers are planning a No Fly zone for Libya to protect anti-government protesters, and Russia has decided to stop selling the Libyan government arms. No one should have been selling arms in that part of the world, but “no fly” zone?

Let’s be clear – a no fly zone involves either words (which won’t work) or attacking Libya to enforce it.

The Libyan government is fighting armed protesters/rebels and fighting back. It’s their prerogative. A no-fly zone would obviously help the rebels because they don’t have an air force. The UK government is doing various things to ingratiate itself with the rebels, probably because they’re close to the oil fields. But is this wise?

Gaddafi’s lot are as odious as they come, but we now seem to have an agreement to leave them alone and they’ll leave us alone. Blair decided this in 2004, visiting the Mad Dog in Tripoli and making peace (forgiving him); to their credit the Conservatives weren’t so keen. But is anyone stopping to think what the rebels might be like? Based on previous experience, they won’t be terribly friendly if they win.

This is something the Libyan people need to decide. If we get a “no fly” zone it means attacking Libya and taking sides in what could turn out to be a civil war. We should be careful what we wish for.