Skip to Content

Coffee House

The coming war with Libya

13 March 2011

6:19 PM

13 March 2011

6:19 PM

If the West is not ready to intervene decisively against Colonel Ghadaffi, it needs to
get ready for a post-revolutionary Libya, where the dictator and his bloodthirsty family seek revenge on pro-democracy activists and countries like Britain.

Think of Ghadaffi’s previous record: the Lockerbie bombing, targeted assassinations like in the 1970s, and attacks on US soldiers in Germany. Libya could in future represent a threat to
Britain akin to al Qaeda.


So, the British government needs to think how it will deal with Ghadaffi MK II. Its policy should draw on past examples of containment and isolation. Libya’s neighbours will have to be incentivised
to bolster European – and especially Italian – attitudes. Britain, togther with Nato allies, will have to conduct Styxnet-style electronic warfare against the Libyan government. Britain will also
have to seek to prosecute Libyan officials and arrest them if they leave the country. It will mean clamping down on all commercial links between Britain and Libya.

This is not a policy for the faint-of-heart. It is in fact a state of warfare. But just as Tony Blair had to accept that the Iraq War reduced Britain’s stature in the world, so David Cameron will
have to accept that his principled stance on Ghadaffi’s crimes, but his unwillingness or inability to create a militarised anti-Ghadaffi coalition, means Britain will have a new and capable enemy
in a post-revolutionary Libya. Robert Gates may worry that a no-fly zone over Libya represents a state of war. But the choice is not between war and peace. It is a choice between what kind of war
the West wants to wage against Libya, for how long and with what consequences. For either way, a war is coming.


Show comments
Close