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Gaddafi is a tightrope walk for Hague and Fox

Nick Robinson | 12:54 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, has just said that Colonel Gaddafi is "absolutely not" a target for military action. Speaking after a meeting in Downing Street he told the BBC: "It's not allowed under the UN resolution."

UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox

This morning, when asked the same question about whether Gaddafi would be specifically targeted, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said it all depended on the circumstances.

Last night the Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC's John Pienaar that targeting the Libyan leader would "potentially be a possibility".

Ministers are wobbling on a verbal tightrope. They want to say nothing that fuels Gaddafi's propaganda, nor spooks the carefully-built coalition. But at the same time they want to keep their military options open.

Here is Liam Fox's exchange:

John Pienaar: "Now the allies have attacked command and control centres as well as air defences. Obviously Gaddafi is at the pinnacle of command and control. Does that make him a legitimate target? If it was possible to hit him without unacceptable civilian casualties, would you try to do that?"

Liam Fox: "Well that would potentially be a possibility but you mention immediately one of the problems we would have. Which is that you would have to take into account any civilian casualties that might result from that and at all times we are very careful to avoid that for its humanitarian reasons, but also for the propaganda reasons that it would provide for the regime itself."

Update 14:50: Another wobble and ministers may fall off this particular tightrope.

Government sources are now contradicting the Chief of the Defence Staff insisting that it IS legal under the UN resolution to target Colonel Gaddafi if he is a threat to the civilian population of Libya.

What the General and the politicians agree on is that - as a matter of fact - Libya's leader is NOT currently being targeted.

The UN resolution's phrase "all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas" appears to exclude very little. So little that the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today told workers at a Russian ballistic missile factory:

<blockquote>"It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades."</blockquote>

The limit on what can be done is probably more to do with keeping the coalition together than with legality. However, targeting Gaddafi personally would be seen by many as disproportionate, outside the spirit of the UN resolution and, potentially, cause problems for President Obama since he is required to give an executive order before a head of state is targeted.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hmmmm, slippery to say the least

    We can't go after him directly, that would be against the UN resolution - however they may decide to do it to try and end the conflict quickly; which would be a mistake

  • Comment number 2.

    It certainly is a tightrope for what another mess they are getting us into to.

    Is no-one talking to the King of Jordan who seems to have the only sane voice in this world of hyped up testosterone.

    There is only one solution and that's a political one. But as usual they want to try out their lethal toys first rather than talk.

    Talking means tradeoffs even with leaders like gaddafi.

    There can be no gain in getting rid of Gaddafi whilst leaving missiles and weaponry that be seized by Al quaeda and whoever else fancies themselves a cut of the oil proceeds. Making sure all major weapons have been disposed of first should be the first priority and only Gaddafi knows where they all are so start negotiating a way out for him.

    Otherwise the so called armed to the teeth 'civilians' may not turn out to be the innocents they are projected to be and what fools the west will look then.

  • Comment number 3.

    OOPS!

    So the tories are in disarray.

    That is an important point. If the war aim is to finish off Gadaffi then there is some identifiable end point.

    If we are just there to protect the rebels then that is potentially a commitment with out end, probably with a partitioned Libya. It raises questions about the long term costs of this and who will support the rebels in terms of food etc for the next however many years. It raises questions about Gaddafi's response if he is to remain in power - we already know sanctions won't get him out. Will asymmetric attacks be directed against the disunited kingdom as a result of this?

    Difficult to know if this is all thought through and we just haven't been told yet or if this is yet another fiasco. I'm betting on the second option.

  • Comment number 4.

    The allies have no moral or legal authority to 'take out' Gaddafi.

  • Comment number 5.

    Fox et al need to be very careful with their language.

    Repeat after me, Gaddafi must face justice at The Hague, Hague.

  • Comment number 6.

    Why are we bothering with Libya at all? We'll get no brownie points for going near the place.

  • Comment number 7.

    How many other ridiculous scenarios can we think of. Is there not enough news or should we fan the flames and maybe create some mis-information for another story.

  • Comment number 8.

    They're paid well to do a balancing act, no sympathy.
    Get on with man!.........Omelettes.

  • Comment number 9.

    We've heard UK politicians get all tongue twisted and mixed message before when it comes to removing despots and going for regime change.

    The 2003 version was "weapons of mass destruction", with some "I resign" thrown in for good measure.

    The 2010 version is clearly a work in progress (although I would be shocked if any copyright needed to be invoked).

    Interesting that the LibDems don't seem to be going for a re-release of their 2003 version - bit like 60s students becoming parents.

  • Comment number 10.

    How exactly do we not have the moral authority to take him out? He's already declared long, bloody war on his opponents - war that doesn't end with victory, but actively seeks out opposition after the violence ends for revenge - and broken his own ceasefire within hours.

    There is a point you have to accept that talking with maniacs does not work. No one wants an occupation and there is no threat of that occuring, but I think the moral position is more than clear.

  • Comment number 11.

    Mr Cameron would seem to wish to be seen as a leading proponent of this action and cosy with Sarkozy. So, the RN should send the Ark Roy... Oh -- decommissioned, or some Harri... Oh -- decommissioned, or one of those huge new aircraft-carrie... Oh -- not yet built, or its flights of aircra... Oh -- forgot; new aircraft-carriers will have no aircraft. Well, the RAF could monitor what's going on with the Nimrod upgra... Oh -- cancelled. Well our cousins from Canada could be based at RAF Akritri -- but they prefer Sicily. Why?
    So the UK is down to a handful of Euro (ugh!)-fighters -- and yet the French, also mired in economic mess, seem to have French aircraft and a French aircraft-carrier.
    The Americans? Oh -- they turned up, two days too late on this occasion as opposed to their traditional two years.

  • Comment number 12.

    During the Egypt revolution The White Spokesman said these words. “this administration has been working behind the scenes for the past 3 years ” – paraphrase “to this end”. tacit admission that Obamas Aministration was behind the Egypt Uprising , and probably that of Tunisia and Libya too. Immediately afterwards Prime Minister Camoron and William Vague Foreign Sec were seen in Egypt – along with leading Arms Dealers!! Gaddafi is quite right ! This is about Oil and Arms , yet again !! Not long ago Gaddafi was announced as the good guy. This was no uprising by the people this was organised by USA and certain British interests to sell Arms
    and get Oil. BP has long been after all the Oil in Libya.
    How is is that Camoron calls Student Protests here , Criminal when just some glass gets broken by describes Protests in Egypt, and Libya with bricks , bottles, Assault Rifles and RPGs as “peaceful “?? Obviously , Students should have protested with AK47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades.
    Only a month ago were were being told that Student Grants had to be cut, Public Services Cut and Benefits Cut because the Country could NOT afford it ! No find this was all a LIE. These people are Liars . Actually it was idealogically driven. This the Rich exterminating the Poor so they can kepp more of their money. Now we see plainly how they make their money. Inciting Rebellions and Revolutions within other countries so they can get a good lower price for the Oil, Drive up the Oil price due to the Conflict and boost Arms Sales !!

  • Comment number 13.

    3. At 13:52pm on 21st Mar 2011, jon112dk

    You're always the first to gloat and exaggerate the slightest failures of the Tories - even when the policy is right but the narrative is on the poor side. What exactly is wrong with you?

    Every single post you make gives the impression that you don't care what's best for the country, or what the moral solution should be, or are even remotely interested in the discussion at hand - no, you'd rather revel in the mistakes of a government of fallible people, much like every government. It's like you're dying for them to fail simply because they're Tories. How selfish of you to get kicks out something that (according to you) is wrong because people are suffering. It's quite sick to watch, really.

    Get down off your own personal pedestal. You contribute nothing meaningful despite all the time you spend commenting on these blogs, preferring to take cheap digs rather than urge the right thing. It's embarrassing and childish.

  • Comment number 14.

    During the Egypt revolution The White Spokesman said these words. “this administration has been working behind the scenes for the past 3 years ” – paraphrase “to this end”. tacit admission that Obamas Aministration was behind the Egypt Uprising , and probably that of Tunisia and Libya too. Immediately afterwards Prime Minister Cameron and For Sec William Hague were seen in Egypt – along with leading Arms Dealers!! Gaddafi is quite right ! This is about Oil and Arms , yet again !! Not long ago Gaddafi was announced as the good guy. This was no uprising by the people this was organised by USA and certain British interests to sell Arms
    and get Oil. BP has long been after all the Oil in Libya.
    How is is that Cameron calls Student Protests here , Criminal when just some glass gets broken by describes Protests in Egypt, and Libya with bricks , bottles, Assault Rifles and RPGs as “peaceful “?? Obviously , Students should have protested with AK47s and Rocket Propelled Grenades.
    Only a month ago were were being told that Student Grants had to be cut, Public Services Cut and Benefits Cut because the Country could NOT afford it !
    Now we find this was all a LIE. These people are Liars . Actually it was idealogically driven.
    This the Rich exterminating the Poor so they can kepp more of their money. Now we see plainly how they make their money ;- Inciting Rebellions and Revolutions within defenceless poorer countries so they can get a good lower price for the Oil, Drive up the Oil price due to the Conflict and boost Arms Sales !!
    Note this. Gaddafi was welcomed into the fold (of friendly nations) about 8 years ago by Tony Blair for GIVING UP his Nuclear Weapons !
    What message does this now send to Iran and North Korea.

  • Comment number 15.

    I read comments such as these and start to agree, but then find myself thinking 'well at least we're trying to do something'. We shouldn't be committing quite so much to this action, but intervention is needed. When you hear the pathetic whinges of Putin, or Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemning the West whilst supporting the rebels you have to wonder exactly HOW they are supporting the rebels. Positive thinking doesn't get rid of people like Gadaffi.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hmm, the adverse reaction from the head of the Arab League to the allied bombing of Libya and politicians not knowing the explicit terms of the UN resolution are unfortunate, but that the UN Security Council are holding a "behind doors" meeting about the Libya crisis indicates that maybe the UN is having second thoughts. But we have seen this UN prevarication from the UN before during the Balkans genocide - the UN stood back and let the Serbs/croats/Bosnians murder at will. This only stopped when NATO took charge.

  • Comment number 17.

    The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, has said that Colonel Gaddafi is "absolutely not" a target for military action.
    Right! Do we believe this?
    "It's not allowed under the UN resolution.", but then again neither was destruction of infrastructure, the killing of civilians, or the bombing of Gadafi's personal residence. So, you'll have to pardon my disbelief.
    This morning, when asked the same question about whether Gaddafi would be specifically targeted, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said it all depended on the circumstances. I guess this means that it depends on whether Gaddafi shows his face so that some sniper can blow it off.
    Last night the Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC's John Pienaar that targeting the Libyan leader would "potentially be a possibility". Well now, Defence Secretary Liam Fox seems to have spoken closest to the truth.
    Ministers are wobbling alright.
    Did the Coalition of the Willing sign on to UN R 1973, which really opened the way for American covert action - the action that wants that sweet crdude and wants Gaddafi gone.
    It's a poor time for Liam Fox: to take into account any civilian casualties that might result. Not to worry, Mr. Fox, most collateral damage gets buried with the bodies. No one really talks about it: Witness Afghanistan and Iraq.
    I'm sure that we all noted how quickly the Arab League jumped in to explain: "This is not what we meant. This is not what we intended." but I'm also sure that none of these Arab League members will not complain before the United Nations because they know that they could easily become the next traget of American imperialism.
    But one country is standing up - Russia.
    Russia is calling for and end to the "Libya invasion".
    The Russian Government has called on the Western military alliance to stop these destructive attacks - since almost immediately after the invasion, they resulted in civilians casualties. The Russian foreign ministry called on the United States, Britain and France on to stop air strikes against non-military targets. Libyan state television announced that 48 people were killed and 150 were wounded in the initial strikes.
    China and the African union have also CONDEMNED the military action.
    Moreover, Americans have taken to the streets in their thousands to protest against US military intervention in Libya. We don't get to see much of any of this on western media, do we? Americans also rallied against the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Scores of civilians killed yet top US military commander, Michael Mullen, has described the first stage of the war as successful.
    Gaddafi has promised retaliation, saying he will open arms depots to people to fight the allied forces. "We promise you a long, drawn-out war with no limits," Gaddafi said on state TV as late as yesterday morning.
    The US policy on Libya is making the world more UNSAFE, MORE unstable. I am disappointed that Barack Obama who said that he opposed use of force in Iraq will not oppose this horrible military action against Libya - MURDERING civilians supposedly to protect civilians.
    Well, Russia, why not take your observations before the UN?
    Well AU, why not take your observations before the UN?
    Some country must stop this insane American imperialism before the American Industrial Complex takes over the world - your world and mine.

  • Comment number 18.

    14. At 14:42pm on 21st Mar 2011, Ian the Brit wrote:

    "This the Rich exterminating the Poor so they can kepp more of their money."

    Oh give it a rest. You know why that's such a poorly-thought out position to express? Because if they were to purposely and ideologically ruin the majority of people in this country (exterminate, as you so clumsily say), then they wouldn't get re-elected, would they?

    Spend two minutes thinking before typing. Step away from the computer and read a book on logic. Then stop making such embarrassing comments.

  • Comment number 19.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is correct to say it (the UN resolution) allows 'everything' but not that it resembles medieval calls for crusades.

    IMHO, it would be a big mistake to deliberately target Col. Gaddafi, which might end up making a martyr out of a very evil person.

    The Club Med should continue with the clubbing until a tipping point has been achieved and then a bit beyond.

    Thereafter, they should step back and allow the Libyans to finish the job, which might make the Gaddafi family wish they were at The Hague.

    PS. Although wildly popular at home, Mr. Putin should be careful not to stray too far into the wrong side of international history.

  • Comment number 20.

    10. Marnip wrote:

    'How exactly do we not have the moral authority to take him out?'

    That's for the International Court of Justice to decide.
    If your view held good then Henry Kissinger would have been 'taken out' years ago, along with several other ex- and current high profile leaders across the globe.

    I take it you're an advocate of capital punishment?



  • Comment number 21.

    Will Osbornes £8 billion windfall (our money actually, not his) cover the additional costs of the war in Libya?

    Would it have been more prudent to use it to pay off the deficit?

    Oh well, what's £8bn between friends eh, and everyone knows it's in a good cause after all.

    All in it together, from multi-millionaires? Don't make me laugh! They haven't a clue and austerity is for others, not the likes of them. They are just wasters, they waste our money and they are wasting our time, not to mention servicemens lives.

    Can people still be had up for treason? Perhaps Cameron and Blair could share a cell and reminisc about all their glorious wars, how many bombs they dropped, how many innocent people they killed....

  • Comment number 22.

    "The allies have no moral or legal authority to 'take out' Gaddafi." - Blame @ 4

    We could perhaps do something in the dating sense - ten pin bowling and a film springs to mind, not sure why - but otherwise no, it's not clear we do. The rationale, I guess, is that only with his removal (and killing him certainly qualifies) can the 'mission' as officially framed - protecting civilians in Libya - be accomplished within any reasonable timeframe. I don't really buy this - it's rather manufactured, for one thing, and in any case I'd have thought such an assassination, especially if carried out by the West, could lead to more violence than it prevents - however it's an argument and I'd be surprised if it isn't the main one made by those in favour.

  • Comment number 23.

    I think the saying in the second world war was "careless talk costs lives".

  • Comment number 24.

    . At 14:41pm on 21st Mar 2011, Marnip wrote:
    ... Every single post you make gives the impression that you don't care what's best for the country, or what the moral solution should be, or are even remotely interested in the discussion at hand - no, you'd rather revel in the mistakes of a government ....
    ======================

    Wow - you've got it.

    That's exactly right. I have no commitment whatever to this failing country until this government has gone. Used to be patriotic, considered it important to contribute, even risked my life for this country. Not any more.

    If you actually think this latest fiasco is a good idea then by all means try to justify it.

  • Comment number 25.

    Marnip @13, totally agree. This shouldn't be about politics and claiming disagreement just because your not fond of the current UK government is a pathetically weak position. People are dying, you either choose to act or you don't, hard as that choice may be because you cannot guarantee you will walk away unscathed doesn't change the fact that a decision needs to be made.

  • Comment number 26.

    So Nick what do you think? You're usually ready to let us have the benefit of your vast experience and political knowledge.

    Are you going to sit on the fence or as the BBC term it provide "balance". Never mind quoting this source or that source's view tell us what you think. Is state assassination ever justified or prudent? Assassination of the figurehead of a sovereign state must be as important an act as war itself.

    For what it's worth I believe that state sponsored assassination wrong and I also trust the soldier to be right over the politician, soldiers are undoubtedly more honorable.
    Nicholas

  • Comment number 27.

    Oh dear, the Condem’s are in a bind; such a shame because Cameron seemed to be doing so well last week.

    No we aren’t going after Gadaffi at all, but if he gets blown up by a miraculous mistake, then that’s going to be OK?
    Poor Foxy; he sounded as convincing as me telling our children that the cat had gone to live with somebody else.

    Cameron could do with giving the former Vicar of our Parish a ring & I’m sure he would be only too happy to explain the shortfalls of telling fibs about the reasons for an invasion.
    Now, why did we go into Iraq?
    Was it the nonexistent WMD’s, or maybe the Regime change?
    Maybe it was to protect those lovely Kurdish people who we turned our backs on previously while Saddam Hussein gassed them to death (apparently an internal issue at the time).
    My favourite was Jack Straw's dossier telling us what a naughty boy he was being (no kidding..really?).

    At least it took the Public a little while to realise the Iraq invasion was based on a pack of tissue paper excuses (at best), but the ConDem’s have managed to get us to realise the folly of this action in record time.

    Now, I wonder what Austerity measures Berty will bring in to help finance a possible prolonged war?
    Best get Mr Browns magic money tree watered & fed ASAP.

  • Comment number 28.

    10 Marnip

    Not a questions of morals. If you take all the time and effort to the U.N to get a resolution, you have to abide by the resloution, otherwise there's no point going the U.N in the first place and we wouldn't have wanted that would we?

  • Comment number 29.

    24. At 15:26pm on 21st Mar 2011, jon112dk wrote:

    "Used to be patriotic, considered it important to contribute, even risked my life for this country. Not any more."

    Believe me, it shows. And it's not just annoying - it's disturbing the way you do it on every single thread.

  • Comment number 30.

    But Marnip (10), an 'authority' (moral and otherwise) to kill Colonel Gaddafi doesn't automatically flow from him being a bad person guilty of bad things. It's not so different from more mundane domestic matters in this respect; did you, for example, have the authority to ease Harold Shipman into the long and gentle? - no, only an English justice system with capital punishment would have had that. Here, our authority comes from the principal (only?) forum, flawed though it may be, which we have for adjudicating on these things - the United Nations - and so you'd have to make the rather slippery (albeit possible) argument that killing Gaddafi is directly and strongly related to the officially sanctioned mission objective of protecting civilians in Libya. It really isn't as clear as you think, this 'moral authority' business.

  • Comment number 31.

    25. At 15:29pm on 21st Mar 2011, noIllusions

    Well said. The phrase, "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing" comes to mind at this current time.

  • Comment number 32.

    "21. At 15:20pm on 21st Mar 2011, taxpayer2010 wrote:
    Will Osbornes £8 billion windfall (our money actually, not his) cover the additional costs of the war in Libya?"

    Not sure whether it will but suddenly finding you have extra money is the sort of thing that happens to people who are careful with money. Even happened to Alistair Darling when he was Chancellor. Never happened with Brown though.

  • Comment number 33.

    Nick Robinson.

    ""It's not allowed under the UN resolution.""

    criminals are never deterred by the existence of a law.

  • Comment number 34.

    24 - "That's exactly right. I have no commitment whatever to this failing country until this government has gone."

    I understand you didn't like the last lot either. Fair enough, I wasn't at all keen on the last lot and this lot are only a mrginal improvement but what's the point of screeching against ALL sides? What does it achieve?

  • Comment number 35.

    25 no illusions.

    The answer is not whether you are with are fond of thiis government or not.

    If we want a regime change then we should table a resolution to the U.N. and ask them to vote accordingly. Only right that all Countries should be given the opprtunity to vote on this rather important issue. I wouldn't want to act and then have you and Marnip have to take all the resultant flak.

  • Comment number 36.

    20. At 15:19pm on 21st Mar 2011, TheBlameGame wrote:

    "That's for the International Court of Justice to decide."

    I disagree. I don't accept the premise that courts nor laws should be derived from morality. Legal positivism - they can decide on the law, but morality should be entirely separate.

    "I take it you're an advocate of capital punishment?"

    Not in the slightest - entirely against it, and that includes the hanging of Saddam.

  • Comment number 37.

    28. At 15:42pm on 21st Mar 2011, Mr N wrote:

    "Not a questions of morals. If you take all the time and effort to the U.N to get a resolution, you have to abide by the resloution, otherwise there's no point going the U.N in the first place and we wouldn't have wanted that would we?"

    It's always a question of morals. I was actually responding (albeit without making it clear) to an earlier post about us having no moral authority to attack. The UN have shown themselves yet again to be incapable of coming to a decision in a reasonable amount of time.

    Of course it looks much better to have the UN support, and nothing was going to happen without it - but that doesn't change the morality of the situation. People were and still are getting killed by a brutal dictator, and that's the reality.

  • Comment number 38.

    Sagamix @ 22

    What film would you take him to? "Despicable Me" perhaps?

  • Comment number 39.

    30. At 15:50pm on 21st Mar 2011, sagamix wrote:

    "But Marnip (10), an 'authority' (moral and otherwise) to kill Colonel Gaddafi doesn't automatically flow from him being a bad person guilty of bad things."

    Absolutely, and I never claimed it did. Given I'm a moral subjectivist, my point of view is that it is moral to kill Gaddafi to prevent the massacre of Libyan people who are fighting for the same rights we enjoy and like to promote.

    "Here, our authority comes from the principal (only?) forum, flawed though it may be, which we have for adjudicating on these things - the United Nations - and so you'd have to make the rather slippery (albeit possible) argument that killing Gaddafi is directly and strongly related to the officially sanctioned mission objective of protecting civilians in Libya. It really isn't as clear as you think, this 'moral authority' business."

    On the contrary; I find the morality business quite simple. I don't considfer morality to be something derived from the law, nor vice versa - the difficulty may come from different interpretations of these concepts that you and I have.

  • Comment number 40.

    "Gadaffi not targeted by strikes"?

    What's so special about Gadaffi that Bob Crow is leaving him in peace?

  • Comment number 41.

    10. Marnip wrote:
    30. sagamix

    Moral authority:
    Normally you would say that Gaddafi's fate should be decided by Libya's justice system, but given that there isn't a reputable one at the moment and is unlikely to be one in the near future, the International Court is probably the best option.
    Otherwise we'll have another politicised and procedurally flawed trial like Saddam Hussein had.

  • Comment number 42.

    sagamix...

    and there is the newlabour mistake writ large....

    You actually believed there was a 'morality' to all your wars.

    Morality has nothing to do with it.. what we are doing is "legal, necessary and right" under the terms of the Unitied Natons resolution, with the support of the international community. No tory would bring morality into an argument about a man who murders his own citizens having not complied with his own ceasefire.

    Why do all lefties get on their high horses about morality - a concept few of them could barely explain, never mind adhere to. It was this self same morality that led labour into wars in Kosovo and Iraq without the approvals from the UN? How was that 'moral'?

    For a party that prides itself on its intellectual superiority it's alarming that most of the time the left doesn't appear to know what it's talking about.

    It's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 43.

    The can of worms has been opened. Will the army turn against Gaddafi or will this be a protracted drawn out civil war? The Libyan war is already turning very complicated after only 48 hours of action. The Arab league is wobbling already, Russia spouting off about crusades and civilian casualties just beginning.

    Ed Miliband has just said that this is NOT a civil war - if he is right then the uprising should succeed relatively quickly. If it IS a civil war I suspect we are looking a a long drawn out conflict. http://bit.ly/hr6dnN

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    PD @ 38

    :-) Well for me, on a first date, as Susan would tell you if she weren't so keen on us keeping it all a big secret, it tends to be one of those light De Niro comedies - 'Meet The Parents' if it happens to be on, and it usually is - but in this case, with the Colonel, your suggestion is probably better. Get the guy thinking along the lines we want him to be thinking.

    (Why can't we do italics on here now? Can't blog properly without italics.)

  • Comment number 46.

    24. jon112dk wrote:
    'That's exactly right. I have no commitment whatever to this failing country until this government has gone. Used to be patriotic, considered it important to contribute, even risked my life for this country. Not any more.'

    I can't recall you being this passionate about the last government's shameful handling of the defence portfolio. Money squandered on MoD HQ, procurement fiascoes, preventable casualties, unforgivable mistakes with fatal consequences.
    Or is it just the class thing? Couldn't get a promotion from the ranks?

    'If you actually think this latest fiasco is a good idea then by all means try to justify it.'

    I thought you were for it if it was going to be a 'short, sharp war'?
    And how do you justify a fiasco like Afghanistan? How long has that been dragging on for? You're the military expert. See any historical parallels?

  • Comment number 47.

    36. Marnip:

    Point taken, shouldn't conflate or confuse moral and legal...
    Either way we don't have a moral authority given our history.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    Just wanted to chip in say that I'm becoming increasingly concerned re: Libya. Our involvement has gone from enforcing a no-fly zone to bombing ground targets within a space of a few days; now Cameron is saying he wouldn't rule out the use of troops on the ground...

    Have we learned nothing from the past 10 years of our 'involvement' in the middle east??

    My worry is that Western leaders see this as opportunity to oust Gadaffi in the same we sought opportunity to get rid of Saddam.

    A humanitarian crusade or a quest to install a Western-friendly leader to sit on the oil reserves...? I don't care which, it just seems like a dangerous decision either way.

  • Comment number 50.

    S@22.
    'We could perhaps do something in the dating sense - ten pin bowling and a film springs to mind, not sure why..'

    The robes would be a hindrance. And I think he'd chew popcorn all the way through the film and take up both armrests.

  • Comment number 51.

    42. rockRobin7 wrote:

    'No tory would bring morality into an argument about a man who murders his own citizens having not complied with his own ceasefire.'

    No, of course they wouldn't.
    The name Pinochet springs to mind.

  • Comment number 52.

    marnip @ 39

    You're absolutely right - 'moral' is not the same as 'legal'. I could give countless examples of things which I would deem immoral yet are perfectly legal (voting Conservative, to give a really obvious one), and just as many of things which are illegal but are NOT immoral - smoking a fag on an outdoor railway platform, say. And I'm sure you could too.

    So, okay, if what you're actually saying is that in your personal opinion it would be a morally upright act, at this point in time, if our forces were to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi, then this is fine, it's unarguable.

    But equally, in MY personal opinion, it wouldn't be.

    And some would agree with you, some with me.

    Which is why British foreign policy can't be based on my opinion or on yours. Or it's one of many reasons, rather. This is where the consensus comes in - consensus as expressed through bodies such as the United Nations and the International Court (for international affairs) and our homeland justice system (for domestic matters).

  • Comment number 53.

    I sense you're trying to make some sort of point, Robin (42), but I'm not at all sure what it is. You aren't either, are you? I'm saying what is 'moral' (or not) is a matter for the individual, but when we extrapolate to our (being British forces) 'moral authority' for doing this that and the other in Libya, it needs to flow from the United Nations.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Blame 4.
    Not wishing to invite you into any “told you so” moments, but the lady you voted for talked more sense than anyone else in the commons today! I listened to Mr Cameron who thankfully is not sounding his usual posh shrill self, but I couldn’t help thinking how stupid the contents of his words were. The morality lines he was using today are in stark contrast to the morality his govt has shown since they have been in power, especially in regard to the inventory of weapons sold to Gadafi under his watch. Couldn’t get the hypocrisy out of my mind. And it got me thinking about how clouded and gambler like our decisions are in regard to military action. Of course its UN sanctioned and it could save lives, I don’t know why my instincts tell me its wrong, especially as I always argue for the UN to act decisively which it has and that the uk should only act under UN directives and agreement exept in matters of national self defence.
    I also dont know why there isnt an exit plan or the possibility of a wider and prolonged civil war being discussed.
    Confused i am!?

 

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