Libya, leave the solutions to the Libyans

Baroness Murphy

I don’t ‘do’ foreign policy. If ever I get the urge to pontificate in the chamber about our role in the World’s business I gaze around me at the many and various people whose experience is greater than mine and decide to keep my mouth shut. But I am incensed about Libya….we should stay out of this madness altogether. Have we learnt nothing from Iraq? Here we are proposing yet again to presume to know what is best for a country when the army and at least half the population remain loyal to Gaddafi. We have no clue whether a no-fly-zone and air attack bombing will lead to more suffering for the people of Libya than leaving well alone. There is no clear person or group ready to assume power after a regime change, leaving the country exposed to a long civil war if Gaddafi were to go from external force.

As I write today it seems that the threat of direct bombing action by the US and allies has stopped Gaddafi’s troops from massacring the rebels in the east, a ceasefire was announced about an hour ago by the Libyan foreign minister. So the UN threat policy is working? Well yes, and I do not minimise the importance of the relief that must be to countless people in Benghazi and Cyrenaica but the lull won’t last for long; the economic sanctions and continuing blockade of the airports will adversely affect life in Libya. The people of Libya must find their own solution to a regime that they have felt unwilling to overthrow for more than 40 years. Unless the rebels can convince the people of Tripolitania and the army too that regime change would be better than the current one there will be no real change for the people.

Let me make it clear: the Gaddafi regime stinks; his eccentricity is loopy and dangerous. But he is not mad and the enormous pictures of him which bedeck every public building and most private ones are there by the people’s consent. Let the Libyans sort out Libya.

21 comments for “Libya, leave the solutions to the Libyans

  1. Dave H
    18/03/2011 at 2:56 pm

    It seems to me that the best contribution we can make to the no-fly zone is to not fly in it – easy to do given our lack of aircraft and funds to operate them.

  2. Carl.H
    18/03/2011 at 3:30 pm

    “There is no clear person or group ready to assume power after a regime change”

    Who has the French Government recognised as a legitimate power then ?

    But he is not mad

    Is that a professional diagnosis ?

    No one is saying the Libyan people will not sort it out but the massacre of innocent civilians and torture should be stopped.

    are there by the people’s consent.

    Like those of Stalin and many others?

    I gaze around me at the many and various people whose experience is greater than mine and decide to keep my mouth shut.

    Sorry but good idea imho.

    • jake____
      18/03/2011 at 11:39 pm

      Sorry Baroness Murphy, but I’m going to have to agree with Carl here – “consent” can be forced, and the threat of torture is a great way to ensure said consent. How do you know that half the population are still loyal to him?

      Time will tell if this is a good intervention or not, I’m not one for warmongering (far from it in fact) but Gadaffi was going to brutally massacre his own people who dared to defy him… I think this UN action is far more justified than Iraq… maybe with your access privileges to the halls of power can enlighten us as to what is really going on behind the scenes? It’s hard to judge this accurately sat in front of my computer or by reading/watching media reports…

  3. Carl.H
    18/03/2011 at 8:38 pm

    Reports suggest Gaddafi is using mostly well paid mercenaries to fight his battle. The Libyan Army who are not as well equipped were on the rebels side from the start.

    The following link is to video of rebels who had been captured by Gaddafi forces, tied and executed. Libya is not a signatory to the Geneva Convention and one can see clearly why.

  4. MilesJSD
    18/03/2011 at 8:45 pm

    The baroness conflates human-identity with nation-state identity.

    ( surely closer pro-active attention to the three principles of honest-communication and argumentation would help save us all, including of course the pro-active baroness herself, from such compound errors ?

    1. Clarity
    2. Charity
    3. Self-Correction).

  5. Liz Cook
    19/03/2011 at 3:21 am

    So you only speak up about something when you are incensed about it Baroness Murphy, yes? What about when you are saddened, or sickened, or grieving, or one of the other sorry emotions being felt by those Libyans struggling for a decent life, and for the ability to do just what you have done – which is pontificate in public. That was their only crime against Gaddafi, to speak up, to stand their ground in public and have their say.

    Where is your compassion? You would not stoop to help a neighbour in trouble? You’d rather ‘let them sort themselves out?’ Dear me. I for one am glad you ‘don’t do’ foreign policy.

    Liz Cook. Plymouth area

  6. Steven
    19/03/2011 at 4:25 am

    I believe Carl’s final recommendation is completely justified on the basis of this post.

    How are the unarmed civilians of Tripolitania (and the rest of Libya) expected to fight against tanks, helicopter gunships and mercs whom lack a conscience?

    The rebellion was put down brutally in Tripolitania despite the defection of local army barracks. The major towns in Tripolitania (except Tripoli) all reportedly defected to support the rebels (Sabratha, Zintan, Gharyan, Az Zawiyah, Al Khums, Zuware, Bani Waled and Tarhuna) but only Misrata seems to be holding out against Gaddafi’s superior forces.

    I actually find it disconcerting and slightly sickening that somebody in your privileged position can dismiss Gaddafi as nothing more than an eccentric and seemingly suggest he has the overwhelming support of the Libyan people who reportedly face a one way flight to a hole in the desert if they publicly oppose the regime.

    A ceasefire may have been declared but the fighting continues. That is hardly a surprise coming from a regime who have blamed the rebellion on Osama Bin Laden lacing students Nescafe with hallucinogenic drugs only to say a week later that if the west attacks Libya he will invite al-Qaeda into the country (maybe he fancies trying some of their coffee considering he dresses like a 70s raver).

  7. maude elwes
    19/03/2011 at 11:10 am

    Do any of you really know who is at the back of this rebellion? I mean could it be Western governments who want an excuse to invade?

    Remember Afghanistan? Whose idea was that? Whose idea was it that we joined the yanks in Iraq?

    It appears all too cozy to me that suddenly, in Libya, the country the Yanks were seriously miffed at us for giving them their terror bomber back, suddenly find they sprout rebels who cry for Western help to smite this beast they supported for 42 years, and we, under the guise of ‘humanitarianism’ can’t wait to get in. Along with the French collusion and the appearance of collective ‘pushing’ of the reluctant yanks into it.

    Do you know what you want from this intervention? And do you know what you will do if it turns much nastier than you have any concept of, because we have clowns at the helm, who cannot think in a straight line? What do you want for Libya at the end of all this? Are we once again to be the saviours of Islam? What is really going on here?

    Who is making money from this? Other than the arms dealers of course. We all know it will grow our economy don’t we?

    Remember the billion dollars falling out of trucks in Iraq? Are we going to have a replay of that?

    You bet your life we are.

    Andrew Green has some thoughts on why we are taking these steps. I’m inclined to think he has a lot of sense.

  8. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    19/03/2011 at 6:49 pm

    Thanks for these comments. It is still possible to hold non-interventionist views and be a member of a caring human race. We very rarely intervene in countries where one set of people are murdering another, perhaps we should have in Bosnia but we didn’t. But why don’t we in Darfur? Why don’t we in countless other countries where we know the regime is rotten. Because its not in our strategic interests. If we were to intervene in the way Liz Cook suggests (and of course I feel about the suffering people the same as you do), we should pause to realise that the likely first big news we will have will be our own bombing of innocent civilians all in the name of saving them.
    Steven I don’t dismiss Gaddafi as eccentric, as I said his regime stinks, it’s brutal and repressive. The people have not however risen up with one voice to oust him as they did in Romania, Tunisia and Egypt. It’s unkind of you to accuse me of ‘sickening’ you if even slightly; a blog respondent’s anonymous privilege of course to be hurtful but one which undermines your legitimate comment. And Liz Cook, I don’t only speak up when I am incensed, whatever made you think so? All I was pointing out is that there is a wealth of expertise in foreign affairs and I usually find a voice among them that I agree with. On this occasion I am in a minority and on that basis thought it worth commenting. One of the things one gets used to in blogging is the fact that half the commenters agree, half disagree and we never know what the silent majority is thinking. But can’t we do it kindly?

    It seems likely that the military offensive will begin soon, and now that the decision has been taken I hope very much that it will be successful in minimising loss of life. I still can’t see what the aftermath can possibly be except more turmoil.

  9. Gareth Howell
    19/03/2011 at 7:18 pm

    I gaze around me at the many and various people whose experience is greater than mine

    But with opinions no better nor worse evaluated than the noble Lady’s own, and yet with long years of experience that they claim. and have.

    Strategy (and strategic interest) is always the watch word of Foreign Affairs. The general adverse effect on the Oil markets is watched carefully although I believe that the likes of TOTAL, the French, and possibly Dutch corporations are the key to Libya.

    If this nation state of ours shows a lackadaisical approach to its European neighbours interests in the Middle East we would soon find problems cropping up elsewhere, on the strength, or should I say “weakness” of it.

    Strategy is about INDIRECT APPROACHES to other Nation States, as the war in Iraq most certainly was. Ask Mr Blair and ask him about

    Whose was the WMD then, and whose is it now?

    Iran? Indirect? Ooh! Oooh! Pooh! Pooh! Pooh!

    Kind regards.

  10. Carl.H
    19/03/2011 at 7:36 pm

    “Let me make it clear: the Gaddafi regime stinks; his eccentricity is loopy and dangerous.”

    Steven I don’t dismiss Gaddafi as eccentric

    The people have not however risen up with one voice to oust him as they did in..

    That would be extremely difficult in the circumstances, with mercenaries who put down dissent with ease by appalling acts of terror.

    A few tweets supposedly from inside Libya on the BBC:

    1544: Activist group the Libyan Youth Movement tweets: “More conformations that people kidnapped across Libya namely Zwara and other areas to be used as human shields #Libya #Feb17”

    1515: Proud Libyan tweets: “Fed up of media saying #Tripoli is where Gaddafi supporters are, I’m from there, we hate him, hate him, 1000’s died in 4 weeks! #Libya”

    I still can’t see what the aftermath can possibly be except more turmoil.

    Free people with a voice. A lot of people couldn’t see why we went to war with Germany either, we could have made our peace. Would the good Lady allow a dictatorship to just happen in the UK? Would she allow the torture and disappearances that have been occuring in Libya for decades in this Country ? Or would she meekly carry on with her job in apathy or collusion ?

    The people of Libya are taking on the likes of Stalin at his height, do you blame those standing next to the mercenary for shouting viva Gadaffi ? Are the people free to express themselves ?

    But can’t we do it kindly?

    Not whilst someone whose voice is authority is prepared to turn the other way.

    “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings,”

    “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife”.

  11. 19/03/2011 at 9:10 pm

    But we should also look at the cases of genocide in Rwanda or Somalia, the countries in which the UN operations could have prevented atrocities from happening sooner had the leaders of the most powerful nations been quicker to react. Now the coalition forged between the US, France and other nations seems the best possible solution to me. But I also agree with your view about leaving the final decisions to the Libyan people.

  12. Tom
    20/03/2011 at 9:01 am

    So you would rather those poor people in Benghazi were slaughtered?
    It is you, with respect, that appears ‘loopy’.
    May I suggest you go and rent a bedsit somewhere in the middle of London, limit your finances to £40.00 per week and get yourself a dose of reality.

  13. maude elwes
    20/03/2011 at 11:19 am

    It seems to me we have a history of wars that came to no good.

    Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, warned against the Jihadists way back in 1901 when he wrote, ‘I assert with confidence that her ultimate ambition is the dominion of Asia… So we waged a century of covert and overt warfare against an enemy that often failed to materialize but lurked in the subconscious regardless.

    Are we simply going to repeat this waring history forever.

    Even though, to this very day, we have Curzon’s in our Parliament still.

  14. maude elwes
    20/03/2011 at 6:06 pm

    PS: Was there a vote in the House over this war? Or, because of the UN acceptance was this not required?

    Blair had to get a vote. Why? Was it because his was an illegal war and he wanted the rest of the boys to ‘hang’ with him when he was tried for his role in a criminal act like this?

  15. ZAROVE
    22/03/2011 at 4:53 am

    So the moral here is, you can condemn America for it still having a death penalty and complain about International Matters regarding Trade in Asia but somehow its wrong to support those who want to overthrow a Dictator… somehow I find this less than credible.

    It makes me rather Glad to not be as “Rational” as you.

  16. Baroness Murphy
    Baroness Murphy
    22/03/2011 at 10:19 am

    There was of course a vote in the Commons yesterday, over whelmingly supportive of the intervention. I accept that now the war has started we can only hope that it achieves its declared objectives. I remain sceptical that the tactics we have adopted will be less bloody or bring about decent government faster. I shall be pleased to be wrong.

    • maude elwes
      23/03/2011 at 4:37 pm

      @Baroness Murphy:

      I don’t feel you will be wrong. And the reason I feel that way is because they appear to have no idea where they are going with this and no sensible strategy. Add to that the public is not with them, so the vote proves the entire House is out of touch with its voters.

      • Steven
        24/03/2011 at 12:34 am

        Maude I think you will find a lot more of the UK electorate is supportive of the UN resolution’s implementation than you seem to believe (there is even a majority of respondents to this thread that is supportive of action).

        On Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs and Youtube the coalition actions are fervently supported. Over the past couple of weeks on trains, buses, in pubs, shops and even the gym there has been people talking about Libya and I’ve only heard one person suggest the UK shouldnt do something to help protect civilians from a murderous regime that has reached it’s final solution (that was for financial reasons).

        Assuming you must be keeping track of the situation in Libya (Twitter, Youtube, AlJazeera and the rest of the International media) you would also see that the ‘rebels’ seem to have the overwhelming civilian support and popular support across the Arab world. The civilians pour onto the streets in their 10’s of thousands to protest against the Gaddafi regime only to be shot at where as Gaddafi’s staged supporter rallies can only muster a couple of hundred people who just regurgitate the rubbish broadcast by Libyan state TV.

        Whilst you were trawling through the history books to find past interventions by the British you may want to remember the event which created a serious problem for British and US troops in Iraq (and damaged their reputations across the muslim world). Shortly after the first Gulf war, the uprisings in Iraq were brutally suppressed by Saddam Hussain leading to an estimated 100,000+ civilian deaths and the west sat back and did absolutely nothing (Iraq, Leave the solutions to the Iraqi’s I guess you could have said).

        I believe the action will improve the coalition countries standing amongst the civilians throughout the Arab world, evident today in Libya as thousands marched through Benghazi chanting ‘One, Two, Three Merci Sarkozy’.

        Looking into the future the Libyan National Council has a constitution and is seeking a secular, democratic society (surely it’s best that we support them in achieving that?). I am perplexed by your statement regarding ‘the saviours of Islam’. Just because a muslim protests for democratic change in their country which has been led by an oppressive regime for a generation or more does not make them a muslim extremist intent on toppling the government in order to establish another oppressive regime that implements the strictest form of Sharia law.

  17. maude elwes
    01/04/2011 at 3:23 pm


    Well, if you say so, then that must be so! And certainly if Facebook and Twitter tells me I should back rebels, well then, I have to go along with that, don’t I?… Yet, my experience is completely the opposite to yours. Albeit, I am not a Twitter or Facebook girl. I have my doubts about its authenticity.

    Every person I have contact with, bar none, resents the cost, resents the war on war syndrome and feels the government is out of its mind and its depth. The duty of government in a democracy is to protect and defend the people of that country. Not to indulge in wars that are not threatening our people or of our business.

    And why do you feel the British people should be backing an unknown entity? Who are these so called rebels? Do you know? How can you be sure they intend to set up these wonderful pro-democracy organizations you claim?

    And, the most important of all matters is, if people want to attack their government and oust them from office, why should we interfere?.. Who will interfere should a group here choose to oust our government? It could be said we have little or no voice on many issues groups of people here find repugnant, so, a group could mount a rebellion and say, off with their heads regarding our own Parliament. Then put up a good case to proceed with it and voila, ask the world to help them by getting them to set up a no fly zone. Followed by their paying for arms to be shipped here for our theoretical revolutionaries to use. Do you think they would get any support? And how would you feel if they did?

    Egypt was one thing, Libya is another. The Egyptians did it for themselves and clearly the people their worked with one voice. This though is being orchestrated from the outside. And by whom is the question?

    And guess what, when all comes out will you be one that says money, our money, was well spent? Especially if they turn on the West with a vengeance you cannot even imagine.

    As far as Youtube is concerned, here we go…. These guys here are talking sense. I am of their point of view.

    And by the way, this is an American war, once again supported by the UK and Europe. The UN have little option but to go along with what the US wants. And NATO is the US.

    There is far more to this war than you or I have any true knowledge of.

  18. maude elwes
    01/04/2011 at 3:37 pm

    @Steven: I made a double entry of youtube in the previous post.

    This is the one I wanted to put up.

Comments are closed.