Today I feel both relieved and anxious.
Relieved that the UN has finally got its act together to intervene against the criminal Ghaddafi.
Anxious that the intervention may cause civilian deaths, and may be protracted.
I feel responsible, since I am among those who called for a No-Fly Zone, albeit an Arab-led NFZ. At least we have Arab League involvement and support.
The intervention is late, which means that it is more of a challenge than it would have been 2 or 3 weeks ago. The intervention is right, because if Ghaddafi crushes the freedom fighters, dictators all over the world would take Gaddafi's response as their template, and use force to crush any dissent.
Democracy throughout the world has been in retreat over the past few years, and dictatorships have been on the rise. A Ghaddafi victory could have speeded this process, bringing about a world dominated by dictatorships who stifle free speech, imprison and torture dissenters and human rights activists, and indulge their appetite for luxury and the machinery of death.
It is devoutly to be hoped that the international action is speedily effective in bringing Ghaddafi down.
Yesterday on Question Time the loudmouth ex-Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie ranted about how Gaddafi is nothing to do with us. Yes it bloody is, Kelvin, because we supplied some of the weapons that he is using to kill civilians. We have intervened already, in a bad way, and so we are obliged to go in and correct the imbalances that we have created. The likes of MacKenzie will be the first to complain about the wave of Libyan refugees who would come to Europe as a result of a Ghaddafi victory.
MacKenzie is blind to the fact that we live in an interconnected, mutually interdependent world. That is an unavoidable fact of political ecology. We cannot live in our little individualised white England. We live in a dynamic, interlinked world. John Donne saw this interconnectedness four centuries ago: "Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee".
It is simply not possible for us to sit back and ignore the effects or our own prior actions. It is necessary for us to correct our actions, by stopping the global arms trade, and by acting in our own country in a liberal democratic way, especially with demonstrators - something else that MacKenzie would oppose - but when our actions bring significant human rights abuses from dictators that we have had trade with, the only right action is to give real physical assistance to the people who hunger and thirst for democracy.
MacKenzie isolationism is inhumane, ignorant and wrong. The alternative - legal intervention against Ghaddafi's war machine - is problematic, difficult, but right, in that it is a blow struck not just against the Libyan tyrant, but against tyrants everywhere.
The Question Time discussion last night was worrying in the amount of ignorance that came up in the discussion, from both audience and panel speakers. Simon Hughes was the only one who mentioned the UN stance of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which rightly places an obligation on states to intervene against regimes who commit crimes. There was much agonising about the risk of committing our troops to Libya, whereas the UN Resolution specifically excludes this option.
The best outcome is the speedy departure of Ghaddafi from Libya, even if it is on a jet plane to retirement in Zimbabwe. It is still the case that jamming of Ghaddafi's TV and radio broadcasts could help to bring this forward sooner, by loosening his grip on the minds of his supporters. Maybe the non-interventionists in the Green Party will eventually take up this non-violent line of action. I have emailed my MP on this matter, and have been trying for 3 days to speak to him on the phone about it. Maybe today.
So, the struggle continues. The UN has at last intervened. Let us all hope that the end of the Ghaddafi regime will come soon, and that other dictatorships world wide will give way peacefully to the tsunami of democratic aspiration that is sweeping the world.
Link to text of UN resolution