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Reporting foreign intervention

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Alistair Burnett Alistair Burnett | 14:51 UK time, Thursday, 7 April 2011

Since the foreign military intervention began in Libya in early March, The World Tonight has been airing the debate over why action is being taken in Libya and not other countries, such as Ivory Coast.

Ivorian mothers and children sit at a UNHCR camp for displaced people in Duekoue.

Ivorian mothers and children sit at a UNHCR camp for displaced people in Duekoue.

Over the past decade, we have covered the waxing, in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, of so-called humanitarian or liberal intervention, and its waning in the wake of the Iraq invasion in 2003. It is never a simple case of the international community intervening to protect civilians who are victims of repression from their own governments. If it were, we would have seen foreign forces going into such countries as Sri Lanka or Burma as well as Sierra Leone and former Yugoslavia.

Last Thursday, we asked Elizabeth Dickinson of the respected Foreign Policy magazine why up to that point there had not been the same international action in Ivory Coast as we'd seen in Libya. She told us that conditions were not yet right for intervention there despite the humanitarian situation with large numbers of civilians being killed and displaced by fighting between forces loyal to the internationally recognised President Allasane Ouattara, and his rival, Laurent Gbagbo, who is refusing to leave office despite losing last year's election.

Was it as simple as the fact that Libya is a major oil exporter and Ivory Coast a major cocoa exporter?

No-one goes to war over cocoa, Elizabeth Dickinson argued, but that is not the whole story. As usual in international affairs things are never that simple and there is rarely any single reason to explain why governments decide to take action or sit on their hands.

There have to be a combination of factors in play and - rather like the ingredients of a cocktail - there needs to be the right mix for intervention to take place.

The motives to intervene in Libya were much more than a simple humanitarian impulse. Colonel Gaddafi had publically threatened to take revenge on his enemies in Benghazi, so there was an imminent danger of a humanitarian catastrophe, and a humanitarian disaster there could have lead to large numbers of refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean which the Europeans clearly don't want. Libya is, of course, a major oil producer, so it is also strategically important to Europe and indirectly to the US.

In addition, at the moment when the Libyan revolt picked up steam, both the British and French leaders wanted to demonstrate they were on the side of Arab publics after being caught by surprise by the "Arab Spring". President Sarkozy had taken a lot of criticism for backing the Tunisian leader, Ben Ali, until the last moment (his foreign minister had to resign over her links to the now former Tunisian leader) and David Cameron had been criticised for touring the Gulf states with a business delegation, including arms exporters, at the same time as his government was suspending arms export licences to countries in the region, including Libya, which were using force against peaceful protesters.

Colonel Gaddafi also lacked powerful foreign friends to protect him. So when the French and British brought Resolution 1973 to the UN Security Council, it seems the leaders of China and Russia did not believe they had enough at stake to protect the Colonel by wielding their vetoes, and the Arab League and African Union backed the intervention as they have no time for the Libyan leader who has never been shy of lecturing them on their faults or interfering in their internal affairs.

Finally, there was a known tactic - a no-fly zone - that was readily to hand.

All these factors had to come together at the same time for intervention to take place.

In the past week, enough factors have come together so that France and the UN have now intervened in Ivory Coast proving that old maxim that a week can be a long time in (geo)politics. Last Friday, a new Security Council resolution was followed by French and UN helicopters attacking Mr Gbagbo's troops who were resisting the advance of Mr Ouattara's forces.

So what changed? Firstly, Mr Ouattara's forces suddenly got the upper hand in the fighting on the ground, so the foreign forces did not need to use much air power to give what they hope will be a decisive push. And, as we've been hearing on The World Tonight this week, the humanitarian situation deteriorated rapidly and evidence of massacres emerged creating a sense of urgency.

Add to this President Sarkozy's new found desire to show France is not a friend to authoritarian leaders, and you had the necessary ingredients for military intervention.

Neither Ivory Coast or Libya are straightforward and easy to explain, but we have tried to avoid falling into the pitfalls of seeing them in black and white terms and reflect the debate over why international - including British - military forces have got involved.

But, unfortunately for Bahraini or, for that matter, Burmese pro-democracy activists, the humanitarian impulse to help there has not been reinforced by a confluence of other key factors to trigger strong intervention on their behalf.

Alistair Burnett is the editor of The World Tonight.


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    What idiot thought up the new face page for the webpage of world service? I liked the the webpage as it was which gave me a nice overview of events. I don't like to always have to listen; I want to quickly browse over the big picture. What's wrong with you people? don't you know when to leave well enough alone?


  • Comment number 4.

    Quote: "Since the foreign military intervention began in Libya in early March, The World Tonight has been airing the debate over why action is being taken in Libya and not other countries, such as Ivory Coast."

    Those so-called civilised nations can not be everywhere, let alone intervene in every situation around the globe. The intervention in Libya has nothing to do with oil - the usual excuse trotted out whenever certain countries get involved in a crisis situation in a foreign country. We can not, nor should we stand idly by while a 'leader' slaughters indescriminately those he rules. But then neither should we set ourselves up as the world's policemen, our's is only a small nation in comparison to many others, who do far less.

    There are those who will stand by and watch the events from the sidelines, doing nothing to help and yet, being highly critical of those who do. Mankind would perhaps be better off without them - they have little if anything to offer, even if they happen to be 'leaders' of other nations.

    I have watched the Libyan conflict from a distance and only by way of the media, i.e.. news on T.V. and the Internet. I have heard a rebel general being critical of those maintaining the 'no fly zone' in respect of Misrata (also Misurata or Misratah), while he no doubt sits on his ample backside in Benghazi. Well general, I dare say that you could have got off your padded backside and used your own men to relieve Misrata instead of expecting others to do it for you.

    The 'no fly zone' is not being operated to provide you with air cover for your operations, it is there to protect civilians. From what I have seen the air power in use is being used well and with care. Yes, there are bound to failures, there are bound to be things that get done incorrectly and their are bound to be innocent victims but they are preventing gaddafi slaughtering his own, and they are removing some of his capabilities to do so and therefore saving large numbers of lives.

    Apparently absent between NATO and 'The Rebels' are real understanding of the situation and, effective communications.

    Advice for NATO senior military officers: Watch the news, you might even be able to keep up with the situation on the ground. Tip: Don't fire on Gaddafi's men and their convoys while they are passing through or stationary within residential areas - wait until they leave and are out in the open!

  • Comment number 5.

    I second the new world service website. The older one was much better.

  • Comment number 6.

    Alistair, the BBC certainly has had disproportionately higher coverage on Libya - with the exception of perhaps Andrew Harding who has written a fair chunk about the crisis in Ivory Coast. The key I believe is, as you quite rightly indicate, the strategic importance and location of Libya - not just because of oil but also because of the political sensitivity surround the region.

    The politics of intervention are quite tricky following the Iraq disaster - Obama in particular has had to tread more carefully with respect to US involvement in the region. Even other countries in Africa, South Africa for instance, have had to be cautious in managing the Gaddafi crisis - so much so that political intervention has become a topic of discussion during the local elections currently being held there.

    Clearly there is more than just humanitarian criteria for political, let alone military involvement. What other criteria are there except the price of regional instability and ultimately economic incentives?

    Olga (Czech on Africa blog)

  • Comment number 7.

    #6: Oh Olga, you do have such a clever way with words!

    You could almost turn me on with your, quote: "Clearly there is more than just humanitarian criteria for political, let alone military involvement. What other criteria are there except the price of regional instability and ultimately economic incentives?"

  • Comment number 8.

    Does no one at the BBC care about the law anymore?

    I telephoned the BBC last night (first time ever) to report that a news item aired on News24 was predjudicial to a person who is charged with murder. It is still being reported today.

    The BBC seem to find difficulty in understanding the distinction between 'interesting' and 'public interest'.

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    would some one at the the bbc please remember Crawley town FC as they are the first football team to win there league IN ENGLAND, strait up look in to it, even the sat sun teams lol. and lets not forget the close race at old trafford. Crawley Town are and have been consistantly playin well above there league. And deserve a mention . T
    Thankyou [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 11.

    There is so little interest in your postings
    that I suggest you get back to topics of interest here on the Editors.

    I can see that the whole of BBC Online is in total turmoil.

    One can only hope that good sense prevails,
    and that we the users of the service are dealt a better hand in future,
    for the recent past has been distinctly dire.

  • Comment number 12.

    News Of The World phone hacking scandal - I have lived in the UK for 10 years coming from a corrupt country elsewhere in the world.
    I have always thought it so great that there is personal protection and accountability in this wonderful nation. Imagine my disappointment that the police did not investigate the phone hacking scandal thoroughly because of powerful people. Is this country just as corrupt and unreliable as any South American, African or South East Asian authoritarian/dictatorship? I am really hoping not. Alarm bells went off when it has come to my knowledge that a senior female editor at News International known for dining with Prime Ministers privately boasts that she 'runs' this country. After all David Cameron always looks like Adonis in Press opportunities and Gordon Brown was constantly pictured and portrayed like an idiot with much less physical appeal being caught with odd expressions and the likes. Shame on you DC for kowtowing to her!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Yes, the question of intervention is complex indeed. For example, Sudan is swimming in oil and yet the 'International Community' allowed the genocide by the Arab Khartoum government of hundreds of thousands of black Sudanese in Darfur to continue for years without lifting a finger. No doubt the fact that China and Russia have ecomomic interests in Sudan and supplied Khartoum with the means to commit the genocide has a lot to do with the international indifference to those war crimes. Russia and China, of course, are permanent members of the UNSC.

    One cannot take a even a brief look at international politics without stumbling across a great deal of hypocrisy. Nations act in their own interests, as they should, but feel obliged to pretend great concern for civilian deaths out of submission to the God of PeeCee. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. The US led the intervention in Serbia on behalf of Muslim civilians and certainly not out of self-interest.

    The media is also guilty of hypocrisy, though it might consider itself above such things. I recall that the BBC fawned over Gaddafi a few years ago, inviting him onto a Have Your Say programme, calling him "Brother Leader," believe it or not, and asking him only respectful and timid questions. He was evidently a hero in BBC eyes until the Libyan revolt. Now suddenly the BBC is embedded with the rebels and encouraging them to topple Gaddafi. Jon Leyne was practically jumping up and down with excitement as he reported the takeover by the rebels of an air base at the beginning of the revolt.

    And having remained totally silent about the dictatorial nature of Husni Mubarak all the years he was in power, the BBC was suddenly transformed into a PR outfit for the masses at Tahrir Square and recoiled in indignation when they were attacked by Mubarak supporters, making it clear it regarded the pro-Mubarak crowd as "thugs."

    Journalists should have the ability to distance themselves from events in order to inform the public objectively and reliably. BBC journalists have mostly lost this ability, if they ever had it. They are campaigners, promoting whatever suits their political slant. And that slant is almost always to the left or far left of the political spectrum.

  • Comment number 14.

    People tend to find other people's hypocrisy far more annoying than their own.

  • Comment number 15.

    Really, Really sorry about posting my coments to this forum as off-topic. But I am yet again forced into this recourse by the BBCs censorship of news articles, by resolutely not providing on-topic blog facilities.
    I really want to comment on the news article concerning the French ban of Muslin women wearing the total veil. and this forum is the closest possibility.
    I wholeheartedly support the French desicion. However not on feministic grounds that it is demeaning to women to have to shamedly cover themselves in the presence of men. That is old cheese. If the woman concerned chooses of her own free will to wear a veil, it it not up to us to say she has been brain washed into that position. Though other femanistic ground may stand water.
    It is not the point about whether this is symbolic or not, the French have made a law that potentially subjigated women can make use of if they choose. It this sense the country is seen to be doing its duty toward its citizens. The state cannot force women to declare that are being abused, but at least gives them the legal possibility to do so if they can.
    France has taken a bold and couragous lead, more European Countries should follow suit. Not because the veil is an afront to womens rights, nor because its offends christian sensibilities, but because in a modern society where it is vitally important to display ones identity, to conceal it should be a criminal offense.
    Nor, actually because France decides to make it illigal - laws come, laws go. The transindentatal legal aspect is difficult to comprehend in those countries with less fluid approaches to legalistic changes.
    I have not read the new French law, but perhaps it should be worded 'concealing ones identity when presenting oneself in public...' Democracies of the western style tradititonally pride themselves on the priniciple of tollerance. Tollerance goes both ways, one cannot be infinately tollerant - for example in Europe religions involving ritual human sacrifice are not tollerated. If People of certain religious views cannot co-habit with the laws and culture of a particular country they should not choose to live there.
    I feel that is the ultimate argument. eg if the laws of a country prohibit drinking alcohol, you shoud not complain when caught drinkiig alcohol. The level of penalties ís a different matter.

  • Comment number 16.

    The fact is, is that in many African countrys, such attrocious deaths are the norm, the only difference is that currently they have a political label.

    The murder rates in many African nations actually show/prove that even providing them with democracy and freedoms does not provide for better behaviour.

    Much of Africas problems are a mixture of tribal and just pure criminal as well as religious superstition. The Brit Empire and French & Dutch etc actually made tribes live & work together, past hatred & competition which was shelved is growing among tribes resulting in massive carnage of human life, the attrocitys are as bad as the worst Nazi behaviour. Even South Africa has huge tribal problems which spill over into attrocious violence regulary.

    If Africans were left to their own, then what happened in Rwanda would be easily replicated, it's ony the fact of the existance of the UN and threats to intervene & prosecute that such behaviour has not spread to such an extent, but it's still an endemic tribal problem across the whole continent, which is why these reported massacres are a common event.

    I always find it outrageous that racism is predominantly by the media given over to white behaviour against black people, yet black people and Asians are among the most racist in the world, just that its given a different name, such as tribal or Cast.

    Leave central Africa to it, they only end up destroying whatever gains they make anyway.

  • Comment number 17.

    To hell with foreign intervention.

    What about domestic intervention for Jobs, Road repairs, Food inflation, Utilities escalating prices, VAT, Taxes, pensions, we are all worse off because as normal the brit govs would rather spend our taxes abroad and on foreigners than on the British people.

    Up to £800 billion spent every year abroad on Aid, wars in Iraq, Afgan, Libya, Africa aid to Pakistan, India, immigration and the Taliban.

    For gods sake wake up and spend the money on the voters !!!!
    When will this insanity be realised by a blind and censored british public !

  • Comment number 18.

    Dear BBC --

    Thank you very much for your reporting. Obviously, these are complex issues and never is great journalism more important than when human lives and destinies are at stake.

    However, I should like to call your attention -- given that indeed it is important to get the facts exactly right, to be precise, to cover all the nuances -- to the persistent reports that the "forces" battling Libyans who are defending their land from a totalitarian dictator with a personality cult, who is preventing them from having free elections, comprise -- apparently -- non-Libyans in overwhelming numbers.

    Libyans who were formerly soldiers in the "Libyan army" have defected in great numbers to the "opposition," Benghazi-based side.

    The entrenched, apparently resilient, and from the reports of eyewitnesses very cruel "pro-Gad forces" are said to consist of quite a few Belorussians, possibly also some Serbs and other ex-Yugoslavians, and others who began their life with Soviet passports...

    This, in addition to the mercenaries from Chad, Mali, Algeria and so forth.

    In short (assuming the reports from mainstream Russian news media check out), the actual Libyan civilians we are supposed to be defending under the UN Res 1973 mandate -- who are forced to take up arms to do battle for their rights -- are at the mercy of professional warriors from a mix of countries, who have been trained, paid and whipped up into some kind of blind vindictive frenzy by Gaddaffi...

    Obviously, these foreigners, who do not belong on Libyan soil at all, are going to show absolutely zero mercy for the local population. This, in fact, is what we are seeing, and what your reporters confirm.

    It is inaccurate, therefore, to call this anything like a 'civil war,' or to suggest there is a 'stalemate' between two more or less equal' Libyan sides. In fact, there is one Libyan side -- the "opposition to Gaddaffi" -- and there is a foreign hired-gun side, employed by Gaddaffi, who likes to buy services wherever he can. And has apparently rather a following in the ex-USSR amongst the less scrupulous...

    Such an intolerable affront to the sovereignty of the Libyan people of course demands not only the most rigorous scrutiny and reporting, but also serious UN action against any structures that assist in perpetuating the catastrophic situation wherein pumped-up men with big guns and serious firepower travel the globe and basically bully any docile population on the planet at the behest of their preferred thug-of-the-month...

    The chief cause of this catastrophe is of course Gaddaffi himself. Please do not hesitate to call this spade exactly what it is: a criminal enterprise pretending to be "a government" -- and complete with its own PR professionals, according to CNN. Those, by the way, are based in Boston, Massachusetts...

    We cannot count on peace and security anywhere on earth unless a bit of order is restored. Criminals belong in prison. "Mercenary" "soldiers-of-fortune" are just armed murderous marauding criminals -- nothing better than that.

  • Comment number 19.

    MY statment is simple and has NEVER been responded to by ANY media. Who is supplying the Rebels in Libya, Who is the leader as EVERY single uprising is going the same path, What is the plan and last what country are the rebles from THEY ARE NOT LIBYANS!!

  • Comment number 20.

    Wouldn't be so bad if we were suppling the weapons and making some money out of the mess,at least we would get some of our tax money back which the Brit Gov gives away.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have only 1 word to say to a DUTCH General who believes NATO is doing all it should or could ...Srebrenica !

  • Comment number 22.

    18. At 13:46pm 12th Apr 2011, Maria Ashot wrote:

    The entrenched, apparently resilient, and from the reports of eyewitnesses very cruel "pro-Gad forces" are said to consist of quite a few Belorussians, possibly also some Serbs and other ex-Yugoslavians, and others who began their life with Soviet passports...

    This, in addition to the mercenaries from Chad, Mali, Algeria and so forth.
    Do you have a shred of evidence to support any of this, or are we supposed to think it's all true just because you say so? I'm not even slightly impressed or persuaded by comments like "are said to consist". Said by whom? By you? Anybody could write stuff like this, about anything, to support any agenda whatsoever. What's your agenda, I wonder?

  • Comment number 23.

    It is true noone goes to war over cocao.The fact that they do intervene,even if its for obvious reasons for oil, cant mitigate the good which comes out of it.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am concered about the events in libya, how many more iraq's are these powerful nations creating at there will, are these rebels truly rebels or tribal forces bidding for a bigger dictator.If this was england and you had a certain part of your society marching on the palace with ak47s what would the english government do to repel these rebels, hence they would not be called rebels they would be called terrorist's, and how would they feel if the U.S government starting bombing there citys and the french, say paris, and lets face it who would put it past them with there current record will show. Outside intervention is the problem if they really are there to help leave them to it,this is a civil war, like afganistan with certain governments backing a certain rebel force who is now the enemy of this particular nation. Who is next every country or dictator around the world who don't share their idea's are shaking at the knee's hoping they do not fall out of favour with these super dictators(Governments)these wars a smoke screens. A fair trial is hearing both sides of the story not just one. We should look into our own history starting with world wars, outside intervention for who, UN should not bomb one side and not the other otherwise give both sides the weapons to defend themselves. Otherwise we just have another iraq on our hands and afganistan is a prime example.

  • Comment number 25.

    "Since the foreign military intervention began in Libya in early March, The World Tonight has been airing the debate over why action is being taken in Libya and not other countries, such as Ivory Coast." Well it's the oil isn't it ? And not just for the reasons you think. Consumption by the US and other Western countries is certainly part of it, but the main strategic objective has nothing to do with Libya, but China. Libya is a major source of oil for China, indeed many Chinese workers were amongst those to be evacuated at the beginning of the unrest. By taking control of the Libyan oil market, and selling via 'friendly' Qatar as a broker, fortunes can be made for Western countries whilst forcing the new 'enemy', China, to source it's oil elsewhere - or at inflated Western prices.

  • Comment number 26.

    No 'intervention' happens - however much politicians mouth about humanitarian concerns - until they've picked a side. Ever noticed that?

    The ethical response to a nation that has taken its political differences to brawling rather than arguing and demonstrating is to require a complete disarming of all citizens, followed by supervised voter registration and an election to decide how the majority of citizens would like their country to be governed.

    Unfortunately that kind of democracy sits uneasily with the meddling politicians on the international stage, I mean - they might choose the WRONG leader... eep! Far better to wade in on the side of whoever they like (or on the side of those opposing someone they've taken against), and continue the brawling until they enforce their opinions on the luckless nation.

    And as for those who'd rather brawl than ballot - sorry, but if you hurl a rock or fire a gun at me, I'm thinking about dodging and maybe retaliating, and not about how convincing your argument is in support of your opinion!

  • Comment number 27.

    Libya fits the Black Hat/White Hat fantasy that they would love world conflict to fall into. They thought that with a little shove they could get rid of someone who has annoyed them for years as much for his independance as his actions. They wanted revenge for a couple of things too. Most of them don't know where Sierra Leone is.

  • Comment number 28.

    We humans are made ​​ to fight for power and oil in the world gives you power. So in the name of freedom, the modern world comes to Libya, not for those people afflicted by fate, but for oil, and thus for power. When we find another source of energy as oil, then there will be battle. We are a species without morals and that we must recognize. We could learn something from bees.
    Regards, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 29.

    I think that the biggest mistake we are making in Libya is to make Gaddafi famous. Do you remember the Merlin (film) 1998?

    Queen Mab told Merlin that he and his human followers can't destroy her. Merlin turns his back on her telling her that everyone will forget her, and in forgetting, she will no longer exist. Everyone leaves, ignoring Mab's furious calls, and soon, she fades away into nothing, just the way she had feared from the beginning.

    The more the world pays attention on Gaddafi’s killing, the more people Gaddafi will kill.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Alistair. I've been enjoying your coverage of recent events in Libya and wider region. To show support for those trying to oust Gaddafi, I composed a song that has become very popular on You Tube (and in Dubai where I am based). If you want a giggle at an Irishman's perspective on things, please check out "The Square Roundabout" (about Bahrain) and "Tell Gaddafi to go on home" by the Paddyman on Youtube. Enjoy!

  • Comment number 31.

    Agree entirely with you mirel-but what to do though is THEE big question i fear! Bees could no doubt teach us many things but do we really think that the leaders of our govts would actually go forth to the nearest apiary and study the humble bee-just to learn how to get on without oil!? I think not!!

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    The tragedy in Libya should certainly be solved expense of domestic resources. The world community should interfere only in the case of emergency measures. Personally, my opinion is that if Libya had not been so large exporter of oil, and that news won’t be so hot. And because of external intervention, we have a lot of civilian casualties, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] children and independent journalist’s deaths. I hope the world community will find out soon and everything will be decided positively.

  • Comment number 34.

    Main objective of the Western powers’ in Libya: continue and sustain the NATO mission (backing the rebels fighting the Tripoli government) until the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi FALLS AND REGIME CHANGE OCCURS.
    The alliance resolved to intensify the air strikes against Libyan forces and increase the level of assistance (weapons and cash) to the rebels to enable them to keep up the fight. They pledged that as long as Gaddafi is in power, NATO must support the insurgents’ “cause”.
    The reality:
    1. The disorganized hodge-podge rebel “army” being (illegally) supported has proved unable to defeat Gaddafi’s military forces which show no sign of collapsing, despite the heavy NATO bombardment...and now drones
    2. Saddam’s Iraq in the 1990s and the post-September 11 Iraq war can remind us: NO AIR POWER CAN DECIDE A WAR. In 1991, Kuwait was liberated from Saddam Hussein’s aggression basically by the US-led coalition ON THE GROUND after the years of no-fly zone and bombing strategy failed.
    Those 2 predicaments mean that the Western allies’ plan to overthrow Gaddafi under cover of the UN Security Council R1973 cannot and will not succeed.
    Pessimism now pervades the ranks of the NATO forces which are frustrated at their miserable failure to push Gaddafi’s troops out of besieged Misrata.
    So what now?
    a) arm the rebels in contravention of R1973, something which has already been happening from Saudi through Egypt
    b) send advisers, something which has been happening since day one (illegally).
    Both a) and b) break the embargo on Libya and contravene R1973.
    The Security Council (dominated far too long by Americans and their veto) operates at the whims of the major Western powers, notably the US, Britain and France. However, the idea of sending allied ground forces to Libya might finally split the NATO and it most certainly won’t go down well with citizens in America and Europe, who are already fed up with Afghanistan, which NATO is losing to the Taliban.
    R1973 was left purposefully vague. e.g. While the resolution prohibits occupation of Libya, it authorizes the “use of any means necessary” to protect the Libyan people from Gaddafi’s air power.
    This creates a loophole which the Western powers could use to deploy GROUND FORCES in Libya. Already there is talk...which will likely end up like the disastrous 1993 US “humanitarian” mission in Somalia, code-named “Operation Restore Hope”.
    In the coming few weeks, expect UN conflict over Libya, similar to those which preceded

  • Comment number 35.

    The called “independent media” , BBC world news included, became so bias that now days there is no difference between watching sky news, fox news CNN or BBC, actually sometimes even CNN seems to be more investigative than BBC.
    The BBC helped a lot Blair in the past, to sell the Iraq war, never confronted his versions of the facts and statements which could easily be challenged like the” Iraq had the ability to send missiles reaching Britain in 45 minutes.
    Now, we see the same thing again, BBC and other world media powers , spreading every rumours of massacres as 100% true and giving credit to rebels that no one knows where come from.
    In true, you guys are encouraging the intervention. What is wrong with you guys, at the beginning of the intervention, I watched one of your reporters so excited about the planes that were taking off from a base in Italy to attack Tripoli that I couldn’t believe it was quite disgusting
    Since you are so worry about civilians being massacred, why you don’t encourage a “no fly zone” in Gaza, nobody even you can deny that there have been a lot of massacres over there.

  • Comment number 36.

    What is happening throughout the Arab world?
    I believe that countries are rising up against the west, especially the United States; they are throwing out (or trying to throw out) the western-American puppets who really don't care a hoot about the slaves, only their own elitist positions and growing wealth. Something like a dozen Arab countries are now in the throes of birth pangs trying to bring forth democracy. What was the trigger? Surely, it wasn't just the vendor that committed self-immolation?
    No, the Arab uprising, is a rebellion that says something like: "I would rather be dead than be treated like a starving dog of imperialist greed."
    The United States brought this horrible situation onto itself with QE2 which debased the dollar & contributed hugely to price increases, particularly for food & other necessities. Desperate people will commit desperate acts.
    Egypt has been especially vulnerable; Egypt imported all of its wheat.
    For years, Washington’s Federal Reserve and its military-industrial complex had been able to export inflation, which was beneficial for its own investor class but a huge drain on the world's poor.
    Bahrain censors, incarcerates, tortures... The real foe of the people: is the imperial backer - Washington. If Washington were to get out of Bahrain, the Bahrainis would be able to work things out for themselves. The Bahraini Government gave citizenship to scores of Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians to distort the demographic structure of its population and create a huge Shiite majority. Why then has the government adopted such a hostile stance towards Shiites? I can't answer my own question, but then the Sunni elites get booted, there will be a major upheaval.
    Bahrain hosts the United States Fifth Fleet and is one of the main partners of White House in the Persian Gulf area. UAE is also another major pal of the Untied States. Does the United States consider Bahrain and United Arab Emirates proxies to eliminate Iran’s supremacy as a regional superpower? I doubt that.
    The desire to contain Iran figures prominently in most of Washington’s military ventures in the region, and this is an outgrowth of Washington’s utterly indefensible meddling in Iranian politics from 1953 until 1979. For decades, Washington built the Shah into a powerful, domestic despot. There was a splendid opportunity back in 2003 for a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran, but the Bush administration wasn't interested, and the Obama administration is, if anything, even more inhospitable. I’m convinced that there is a huge constituency in Was

  • Comment number 37.

    all countrys are equal according to the goverments of the west and of course the beeb,but,alas some are more equal than others????

  • Comment number 38.

    Alistair, I'm looking forward to an extention of this post covering the latest news regarding Osama's death in Pakistan. I am not an Al Qaeda fan by any stretch but in terms of reporting foreign intervention, I believe there is an interesting story, and precedent, here.

    Consider the fact that the euphoria across the US has been well-covered by the media, including the BBC, but little has been mentioned about the means to this end. The US, in this instance, has completely bypassed the sovereignty of another country, Pakistan, to achieve its own goals. Shouldn't this aspect of foreign intervention be reported on as well?

    Pratish - Political news blogger

  • Comment number 39.

    "35. At 05:25am 25th Apr 2011, sobserver wrote:
    The called ìindependent mediaî , BBC world news included, became so bias that now days there is no difference between watching sky news, fox news CNN or BBC, actually sometimes even CNN seems to be more investigative than BBC."

    Come on mate thats a little strong! I am the first to critisize the BBC when they go over the top in the hand wringing leftyism but to suggest the BBC is no better than fox news is frankly ridiculous.

    Have you ever watched fox news? Ever listened to Bill o Reilly or Glen Beck? They spew out misinformation on a daily basis ie:-

    When the Bush administration had an equiry to see if Saddam Hussain had a link with Al Qaeda and it found there was NO link whatsoever, Fox news reported the exact opposite! They literally reported the inquiry found there WAS a link.

    35% of Fox news viewers today not only think there was a link but they also believe Saddam hussain was partly responsible for 911. All due to the fox propoganda machine.

    Now in comparison to ANY UK broadcaster that is beyond the pale. In the UK we have ofcom which imposes impartiality laws upon any news broadcaster so even Murdoch owned sky news would be at threat of being closed down if it dared spread misinformation the way fox does.

    And the BBC is a lot better than Sky news. So Frankly your assertion is wrong and extremely unfair.

  • Comment number 40.

    @bigsammyb - I have to agree with you. I don't think one can compare the BBC with Sky - BBC is a league above in my books. As far as coverage is concerned, BBC's Andrew Harding covered the Ivory Coast crisis in detail, including the aspect of foreign intervention, or rather lack thereof, in later posts.

  • Comment number 41.

    Traok (#40), Andrew Harding's latest post on Ivory Coast discusses the issue around foreign intervention there:

  • Comment number 42.

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

  • Comment number 43.

    I was astonished at the passion shown by the Palestinian protestors on Israel's borders on Nakba Day. It seems that the Arab Spring has finally happened in Palestine!
    This should seriously threarten the apartheid status wished on occupied Palestine by the Israeli administration.

  • Comment number 44.


  • Comment number 45.

    Srebrenica is the shame of UN, it is the shame of Netherlands and that is a rock solid fact.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think the battle of britain pilots would be proud of the pilots bombing libya,
    against over whelming odds

  • Comment number 47.

    I am saddened to see all these ignorant naive middle easterners still believing that the west has come to help them have a better future after what they've done .the same tenacious western armies that colonized their countries, killed their ancestors and robbed them now theyve come to help !!!!!!! scattering nuke bombs all over tripoli and after all saying that gadaffi isnt a target bloody hell !!!!! so whats the target then? the civilians or the infrastructure of libya?!prior to the intervention gadaffi was sanctioned with a no fly zone,the very next day an aeroplane was seen flying over bengazi, the bbc and sky news alledged that it was one of gadaffi's, minutes later the white house (the house of rumours and adultry) decided this was their chance to pounce ,soon after that the conning news channels broadcast (with no appology) it wasnt a plane of gadaffi's it was one of the rebels.but the american and their tails chose to act upon the rumour and not fact and yet no one seems to be bothered . The only mistake gadaffi made was to be in power for the length of time he was without creating an army strong enough to fight the backlash of his own countries backstabbers and betrayers feeding on the scraps the so called 'democratic' westerners choose to throw.

  • Comment number 48.


  • Comment number 49.

    Re;'s probably all to end up being another job for the Seals...but until something like that happens, it will be years of stalemate. Thus, then the world will still be broke, unemployed, (even the rich) nature bashed, fighting over food, swallowed by water, & being burnt by the sun. War/s? They will prove to be the easy battles.

  • Comment number 50.

    So much famine impending in Africa; & yet our only response is Hmm...hmm. That's what is so "Sad"!


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