More thoughts on Libya

This is probably an entry that I’m not qualified to write, and so I am just going to throw open a question and draw no firm conclusion.

It’s about Libya again, which is still very much on people’s minds at the moment, and some people have even started talking about the situation in their sleep (apparently). The latest murmurings from nod land were, I am informed, something about Colonel Gadaffi having to go. This was shortly followed by a rather less coherent message along the lines of: the polar bears will sort it all out.

A disclosure that perhaps, upon reflection, might have been better kept to myself.

This blog entry was partially inspired by coverage of the meeting of European leaders in Brussels today. Whilst the general theme of the meeting was tightening up sanctions on Gaddafi and family, the subtle under-tone that the BBC was reporting seemed to be that none of the leaders wanted to push things too far because at the moment there seems to be a very good chance that, once the dust settles, the regime will remain intact. And they’re still going to have to deal with that bloody Colonol.

Gone, it seems, are the giddy Churchillian days of heroic voyages across the high seas to rescue states that are succumbing to the hand of tyranny. We haven’t launched such rescues now for many-a-decade, and some might very well be thankful that we haven’t.

Which brings me on to the real point of this blog entry: to what extent are we, as the international community, entitled to meddle in the affairs of Libya, which still very much remains a sovereign state? Or another variation of the question could be: to what extent do we have a duty to meddle in its affairs?

I have no answer. Nor am I trying to form any firm conclusions, for the question seems just too complex to rationalise. But I can end this blog entry with two quick thoughts.

First, perhaps the best way of tackling such questions is to consider those things that remain true wherever one is in the world. I’m not sure that the benefits of democracy is one of them. But the sanctity of human life certainly is.

The second thought comes from my time in Sudan. If there’s one thing that I learnt during the two years I spent there, it is that the higher moral ground wielded by rebel groups is often highly dubious. True, some people get caught up in the message that the rebels send out, and truly believe that what they are fighting and dying for is just. But what lies at the core of most rebel groups that I have come across is an insatiable thirst for power.


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