LIBYA AND THE LETTER BY OBAMA, CAMERON AND SARKOZY

I have just read the letter on the situation in Libya that Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy have co authored and signed.  The letter is riddled with contradictions.  The letter claims that the western powers are bombing Libya in accordance with the mandate given them by Resolution 1973.  The letter then admits that Resolution 1973 does not authorise the western powers to remove Gaddafi from power by force.  The letter then says that the bombing will continue until Gaddafi is removed from power, in effect by force.

Even more troubling are certain comments in the letter concerning the referral of the case of Libya to the International Criminal Court, which was made by the Security Council under Resolution 1970.  The letter commends the International Criminal Court for undertaking an investigation of the situation in Libya and then flatly declares that Gaddafi has committed crimes against his own people who are under continuing threat from him.  In other words the letter pre judges Gaddafi guilty before the criminal process and investigation has even begun.  I for one cannot see in this anything other than a public instruction to the International Criminal Court to pronounce Gaddafi guilty in which case what we are looking at is a show trial.

The contradictions in the letter are so obvious that they seem to be causing some concern even within the governments involved.  The comment by the French Defence Minister that a further UN Resolution is necessary is surely a sign of this unease as are the calls from some Conservative MPs in Britain for Parliament to be recalled.  Meanwhile Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, who at one time appeared willing to participate in the bombing campaign, have quietly withdrawn from it.  Amongst other NATO states Germany and Turkey were opposed to the bombing campaign from the outset and significantly they have now been joined by Poland, which has made its opposition clear.  This is first time I can think of since the end of the Cold War when Poland has aligned itself with Germany and Russia and against the United States.

The western powers have got themselves into this tangle because they are persisting in the same mistake that they made right from the outset of this matter.  This is to underestimate Gaddafi’s tenacity and staying power.  When in February the first uprisings against Gaddafi took place the western powers assumed that he was about to fall and rushed out statements that he had lost his legitimacy.  When he did not fall they persuaded themselves that a quick bombing campaign would achieve the same result. Now that this has failed to work they find themselves obliged to escalate further whilst making contradictory statements that internationally undermine their position.

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