Monday, 21 March 2011

If the dead could return, there would be no more war

Commenting as a deck chair critic of events in Libya one runs the risk of being labelled a Monday morning quarter-back. However, my blood pressure is running high as I have been more of a Saturday evening soothsayer in forecasting the twists and turns of the run-in to the no-fly operation and as to how Daffy would take the sting out of that. I will now venture a little further into the swamp. The current scheme of things suggests we have no end game in sight - as in Afghanistan we do not know what would constitute a coalition 'victory' that might allow the operations to cease. Firstly, even if we convinced the Government forces to adhere to a verifiable cease fire, there is little likelihood that the opposition anti-Gadaffi fighters would do the same - so what would we do then? Regime change has been denied as an objective; fortuitous if it happened but not an aim.

Just stopping the firing would not let us off the hook. The two groups would still be daggers drawn and any discussions regarding the form of democratic government post-Gadaffi would rate high for setting things off again. Someone has to hold the ring. Here might be a convenient lay-by to have a look at the Arab League. Not a reassuring document, (So why do Arab League summits usually end up paying nothing but lip service to Arab issues?) but time since it was written has run much the way as predicted. One would have to wait whilst they decided who would constitute the Arab League-equivalent of a UN Blue Beret peace-keeping force. At the moment, the US/NATO coalition is regarded by the two groups as the enemy of my enemy and our infidel help is accepted on that basis. We would revert to straightforward enemy if we went into a post-conflict peace force. Whoever is nominated as ring-master will need some muscle to deal with transgressions and the idea of this would be anathema to a majority of Libyans. Thankfully, as we now barely possess the power to sort out a fight down at the Queen Vic, our part would be to look on and pontificate.

But we are some way from that where do we go now situation. If the dictator can get his forces into close contact with his opponents, that is the end of the no-fly deterrent. We would not be able to identify who we should kill and that would possibly lead to loss of Arab support that Obama and Hague consider essential. This infiltration does not need to be extensive; something along the lines of the French 39-45 Resistance would keep attack and revenge action boiling. Even an 'allo 'allo resistance would suffice. The images we see from Tripoli may well be stage managed to demonstrate Gadaffi support but the opposition may well find it a tough nut to crack so we face some sort of partition. And there come back - who will decide the rules of engagement and who will enforce them. Give a Arab a weapon and ammunition and he is like a bear with his own personal honey tree.

So, I foresee a drawn out and un-lanced boil in that part of the Middle East. Just what the world needs. I see no chance of Baldwin's saying re the future of war becoming accurate.