Listening to the debate over Libya, there are a few common themes among critics of the UN intervention, Operation Dawn Oddessy (ODA).
1 We sold him arms!
Well yes, so we did. That was wrong and stupid. But if anything, it gives us more of a responsibility to stop Gaddafi from using them on Libyan freedom fighters.
The fact that we stupidly sell arms has no bearing on the central question, which is - do we stand back and let Gaddafi carry out a massacre in Benghazi and other towns, or do we act according to the UN's new Responsibility to Protect - and do that. Protect.
2 What about Yemen, Bahrein, Syria, Zimbabwe, China and all the other murderous torturing tyrants that disfigure the globe?
This argument is a variant of the "Never mind the dog poo, what about the litter?" that you get in local papers.
The converse is "Never mind the litter, what about the dog poo?"
It is the Red Herring fallacy. Rigorously applied, it means nobody does anything. Ever.
Sure, there is hypocrisy and double standards everywhere in politics. That goes with the job. But it is not an argument to leave Benghazi slaughter.
This argument is expanded here.
3 We did bad in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yes we did. They were illegal. This is legal, the first implementation of UN R2P, which itself may be a game changer, especially if it links with the Global Human Rights Index and a framework of set deterrents to dictators, matching their actions with set penalties.