Gaddafi and Bin Laden

Lord Soley

Reading Baroness Murphy’s post on Bin Laden and Gaddafi below makes me think we have lived so long in relative peace in this country that we have forgotten the danger posed by extreme dictators.

So here are some questions to my good colleague:

  1. Bin Laden was “murdered” was he? Can you explain how you know this and what information you have about the operation that convinces you that the awful crime of murder is the appropriate definition in a situation like this?
  2. Gaddafi’s son was targeted – how do you know? Libyan TV showed a bombed underground concrete bunker. Do you really think this was an ordinary house with the family making tea together? Seems more like a command post to me and that makes it a legitimate target.
  3. “We didn’t solve Iraq by getting rid of Saddam”. That is not what Iraqi’s say to me. Many of them rightly criticise our post conflict plan – or lack of it – but they are not regretting the passing of Saddam and they regard today’s Iraq as far better than under Saddam. So isn’t the real criticism of the US/UK the failure to deal with the post conflict situation – not the idea that Iraq would be a better place now if Saddam was still in power?

In a truly lawful world Gaddafi and Bin Laden would have been arrested and tried. In a more rational world we would not have to deal with dictators in all their variety which leads us at times to be inconsistent. But we don’t live in a lawful world although we are making our way slowly and painfully towards one but you won’t get there by being soft on dictators. And please remember that in the Arab spring the people are calling for freedom, democracy, the rule of law – not for Bin Laden.

9 comments for “Gaddafi and Bin Laden

  1. Gareth Howell
    03/05/2011 at 8:45 am

    So isn’t the real criticism of the US/UK the failure to deal with the post conflict situation

    If they earned anything from their own Oil they would be a tad better off. The PSAs (Production sharing Agreements) were signed even before the troops rolled in to knock the place to bits.

    In a truly lawful world Gaddafi and Bin Laden would have been arrested and tried

    That IS a difficult one. One Bosnian Serb, Radavan Karadzic, is in Quarters at the Hague
    preparing his case, on the basis that he WAS one, and NOT that he was not.

    I called, along with a good many others, for him to be allowed exactly as long as he pleases to prepare his case. It could be a mighty long time.

    The omission by executive presidents and prime ministers to tell subordinates is rather a different matter from the distinct commissioning of them, to commit crimes contrary to the Geneva convention on War Crimes.

    Oh! and Mr Gadaffi! That is Geneva!

  2. baronessmurphy
    03/05/2011 at 1:35 pm

    I didn’t expect many people to agree with me Lord Soley but I remain unhappy that a foreign Government sent in a team of soldiers specifically to kill Osama Bin Laden. And I will answer your questions.

    1. In English law, murder is a homicide in which one person kills another either intending to cause death or intending to cause serious injury. The killing of Bin Laden seems to satisfy that definition. It was outside international law and was not sanctioned by the UN or anyone else except the President of the USA. I have great sympathy with President Obama’s need to show he is tough on terrorism but don’t see how this act will do any good. Do you not find it a little troubling that the President actually watched the killing live on camera?

    2. True, I don’t know Gaddafi’s son was targeted. It seems likely however they were hoping to get Gaddafi himself. We should be sticking to the UN resolutions in any case.

    3. Yes, I agree the real problem is the difficulty of engineering the post conflict situation, as it will be in Libya. Nor am I suggesting that Sadam Hussein was a good thing. But there are rotten dictators all over the world. I am less inclined to intervene than many people because I do not think we know how to produce good government in countries where there is little history of it. The Arab Spring must be their spring not ours.

    I do believe we must behave lawfully; we must strive to behave in ways that we can be proud of internationally. Bin Laden should have been captured and tried by an international court, so should Sadam Hussein. Not always possible I agree, but sending out hit squads isn’t the way we should rid the world of tyrants, convenient though it might seem.

  3. 03/05/2011 at 2:26 pm

    “It was outside international law and was not sanctioned by the UN or anyone else except the President of the USA”.

    When are we going to stop being dictated to by US policy?

  4. Gareth Howell
    03/05/2011 at 6:17 pm

    Pinochet was accused in the appeal court hearing for extradition to Spain of trying to kill the Spanish ambassador from Argentina to Spain, before he became President.

    It was such a flimsy accusation that it was obviously only intended to hit him hard in the pocket, for having the temerity to sit in Cafés in Piccadilly, asking strangers if he might meet Mrs Thatcher.

    I did not trouble to look at the cost, which must have been three or four million quid.

    It is the evolution of the Nuremberg Trials
    jurisdiction in to the modern Hague courts, run by the Dutch, which I need to research.

    Karadzic claimed that he was President of the state and had been given immunity from prosecution to take responsiblity for the deaths as president by the US secretary of state.

    Karadzic claims the Dutch court did not act lawfully in abducting him from the street in Sarejevo four years ago, which of course they did not (act Lawfully).

    There is very much a grey area at the level of presidents and potentates. they choose their own way of leading and in the case of lesser leaders their own way of dying.
    Ceausescu was sacrificed by Gorbachev, a fact about which G says he has a very bad conscience. G did well in that it was only one such sacrifice at that time, bless his quiet retirement. Now there is a man I would be honoured to meet, as one does in the fulnesss of time.

    Interesting thing leadership, at close quarters!

  5. Gareth Howell
    03/05/2011 at 8:47 pm

    resolution 1973

    To suggest that an ‘outlaw’ should need to be captured and tried is a bit silly, even in the modern age.

    A head of state should… if he can be ousted.

    There has been a number of official killings in the UK in the last 20 years or so, ie sanctioned by the head of the executive.

    One death in the interest of the integrity of the state is not significant, and that is in this country itself.

    So to suggest that Bin Laden should have had a trial is not just silly; it is bizarre !!!

    If the President of the USA, and quite a few others too, believe that he is a threat to the security of the USA, then bumped orf ‘e will be, and was!!

    Some of the hard facts of modern nations state , and international governments.

    Qaddaffi is rather different. There is a very large and vociferous Lockerbie lobby in the USA, baying for his blood, and have it they will, even if pointing at him, in the muffled propaganda of “Bin Laden is dead!”

    Qaddafi believes that Al Qaeda is working against him too, so USA must be on his side!

  6. maude elwes
    04/05/2011 at 12:28 pm

    What happened in Pakistan was a disgrace to Western World Democracy and one has to ask why is the UK tied in with such an unhealthy regime as that of the present USA? First the Texan cowboy Bush with his war on terror and now the Chicago bad boy with a hands on killing spree. And Hilary Clinton in cahoots with it all, happy to put a hand over her mouth. I believed women were the tamers of such bravado, their purpose to be more than mouth pieces.

    However, lets really debate what has happened here and ask the question of whether we are going to go further down the road of third world politics and the procedure of assassination and whether this is in the best interest of our British and European societies.

    It was the Americans who demanded a trial at Nuremberg after WW2, as the British, at the time, wanted to kill the lot of them. This one step established ‘trial’ for war crimes. Regardless of how long it took. And now we have this change of tactic. Is that in our best interests in view of our less than saintly actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and so on? I don’t think it is.

    What does this tell us about why Israel is so willing to hit the trail of the assassin when they have the backing of those who will be pleased to perform the same task for the popular vote, akin to the Emperors of Rome.

    We hear differing stories of what actually occurred. He hid behind a woman and his children, then, no he didn’t. Now it appears, he was living in his compound for years having dialysis. And yet, they couldn’t arrest him as he was too ready to strike back. Have any of you experienced the stamina of a renal victim? Later, his body was disposed of at sea and therefore there can be no autopsy. On and on goes the spin.

    When the real issue is, have we changed our laws of war? The Geneva convention no longer to be the basis for a civil outcome? And don’t give that Bush idiocy of this was a terrorist and men who are terrorists don’t count. He and Blair were terrorists with more financial backing and less public approval. And if I am wrong explain the difference to me.

    What happened was shameful and the UK has no mandate from the people of this country to collude with nations who subscribe to such barbaric practice.

    There has to be some very serious reflection by our government here. And it has to be quick.

  7. davidmelville
    07/05/2011 at 10:41 am

    As a Lawyer practising within an Arabic Firm in Dubai I thought you might be interested to hear of this “local” response to the death of Bin Laden which I picked up on my return to Dubai this week , namely one of universal condemnation-not at his death per se, but the manner of it.The consequences are far reaching.
    Bin Laden was widely thought to be suffering from Terminal cancer and his presence in Pakistan was an open secret for many years.
    For him to be shot dead in front of his family rather than arrested and tried for his crimes is vindication of the simple belief that the US and its Allies are above the Law.No moderate Muslim can accept this and the extremists even less so.
    Comparisons are being made with the (Arab’s) treatment of Saddam,the public display of his son’s bodies, and his Judicial execution.
    The Arab Spring gave birth to a new found optimism that the way out of despotism was that of “liberal democracy”.No more.The charge is that Islam would not have treated Bin Laden in this way, that Liberal Democracy is inferior to the primacy of Islam, and the west is corrupt and simply cannot be trusted.
    Iran will take comfort that its views on America have proved correct as witnessed by the celebratory response of ordinary Americans to Bin ladens death.
    Speaking personally I believe that Bin laden’s death will have far reaching and unforeseen consequences for Global Security and the Arab Spring.
    My colleagues are all moderate well educated Arabs (many left Dubai to protect their homes and support the Egyptian revolution earlier this year).They have a strong sense of History and an increasing belief that at last their destiny lies in their own hands-hands which they view as cleaner than the despotic Governments now imperilled by the Arab Spring. By this reckless act, the US have established beyond doubt for many Muslims that that list of despots includes the US and its allies.

    • maude elwes
      08/05/2011 at 9:40 am

      And the BBC Moral Maze yesterday with Michael Portillo and the rest was less than credible. They, akin to the ‘Peace Envoy,’ Blair, seemed to feel what happened in the killing of Bin Laden was appropriate and the right way for a civilized West to go. America was brave to do this and had the legal say so to cover them. Who gave the US this legal position on our world planet?

      Under this auspices, the essence of this stance means the USA is now ‘legally’ able to enter any country it feels it has a beef with and kill the people residing there who may or may not be against what they stand for.

      That will leave many people of the world vulnerable to their fluctuating whims. Which the rule of law was devised to prevent. For, to wide knowledge, a great deal of people throughout this planet, find the the US way of government abhorrent.

      To push this at the public, by defending what clearly is indefensible, is perverse. Britain is sullying its reputation by taking such an idiotic approach to unlawful assassination and clinging slavishly to this relationship regardless of the poor judgment it is to do so. In the long run, it may not be in the best interests of this country at all.

  8. maude elwes
    08/05/2011 at 10:04 am

    PS: When you strip away the law, we are all defenceless.

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