In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Cameron fends off Robertson on Libya

Posted by seumasach on October 15, 2015

Cailean Bochanan

18th October, 2015

Once again Cameron’s nemesis, the spectre of the disastrous Libya intervention, has raised its head. This time SNP foreign policy spokesman, Angus Robertson, speaking during Prime Minister’s question time in the House of Commons, has referred to the “total anarchy and civil unrest: in Libya” as one of the “unintended consequences” of that war. He went on to ask, in reference to the military intervention in Libya as well as those in Iraq and Afghanistan: “What assurances can you give that you have learnt lessons from past mistakes and you will not repeat them?” As it transpired, Cameron fended off the attack with some ease, quipping: “Would you be happier with Gaddafi running Libya?”


Unfortunately, the SNP along with just about the entire political class in Britain is in rather a weak position to criticise Cameron on this issue. The SNP could just about be forgiven for being deceived into supporting the NATO intervention under the wholly mendacious pretext of protecting civilians, but, as the NATO campaign unfolded as an obvious regime change strategy they notably failed to change track and condemn the overt destruction of a entire nation. As Michael Ancram is reported as saying in Lord Ashcreoft’s biography of Cameron: ‘To claim it was only about protecting citizens in Benghazi, so we’re going to bomb the living daylights out of Gaddafi in the south and everyone else, just simply doesn’t hold water,’ So Robertson’s question can just as easily be turned back on him: “Has he learnt the lessons of the past”? Does he now recognise that the West’s humanitarian interventions are merely the pretext for a destructive imperial agenda? Does he recognise that we have no right to undermine the sovereignty of other nations simply on our own whims? Will he reply to Cameron’s challenge by saying: “Yes, things would be much better if Gaddafi was still running Libya or at least if the Libyan people had been left to resolve their own internal affairs.”
I still  hope that Libya does become to Cameron what Iraq was to Blair, as Ancram has suggested, but a bit more honesty is called for from Britain’s political opposition. This “politically correct” war was as at least as shameful as the invasion of Iraq and they failed dismally in opposing it. One of the few who came out of it with even limited credibility was Jeremy Corbyn, who voted against the bombing and said at the time: “I do not know the politics, the aims, the ambitions, or anything else of the people in Benghazi … I think we should be slightly cautious about going to war on behalf of a group of people who we do not know, understand or are aware of what their aims actually are” That showed a certain prescience. Hopefully, we can look forward to the new leader of the opposition pressing home his advantage on this issue in the House.

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