One question is easy, the other is not.
Q1: What is the Libyan Mission?
A: The mission of the Coalition now attacking Libya's air defences and advancing ground forces is to protect the people of Libya from abuse by their nominal ruler, Muammar Ghaddafi under UNSC Resolution 1973.
Q2: When will the mission end?
This question has two answers: one easy and one complicated.
The easy answer is: As soon as possible.
The more complex answer goes like this:
The mission will end when the people of Libya feel safe. Now the clear impression that we have from the Libyan community on social networks and on the news, is that they will feel safe when Muammar Ghaddafi is gone, and not before. So far, so simple. Just like the Tunisians and Egyptians. It seems fair. They have suffered more.
As far as the Libyan people are concerned, they want Ghaddafi to go.
And that is up to the Libyan people. That is their sovereign will. Denied a formal vote in anything that mattered, they have voted on the streets. Spontaneously. The people, all of them. They want Ghaddafi out.
If anyone doubts this, they should take an opinion poll.
Getting Ghaddafi out is nothing to do with Coalition policy. Their policy (remember?) is to protect the people.
The irresistible force of the people's will meets the unmovable object of Ghaddafi's ego.
The people have a fight on their hands.
Now, at this point I have to say as a Quaker and a Green, that I find it unutterably sad that anyone should have to fight. There are so many better ways of sorting things out. It does not have to be like this.
Every 2 weeks the world spends on arms an amount of money that could feed clothe, house and educate every poor child in the world. &c. The arms trade is stupid. Mad. War happens. It does not have to but it does. War is an insane, tragic, disgusting dark game. I am against war. A common theme of this blog is about preventing future wars by preventing and dealing with dictators or UN action to tackle separatism. I hate war. It is inhumane and should go the way that human sacrifice went about 5,000 years ago. Is that clear?
But it is no good saying "We shouldn't be in this situation".
We are in this situation, this terrible situation where a government is attacking its people and its own towns.
So we return to Q1, Answer 1: it has to be over as speedily as possible.
Two modalities: one physical, for action by Army.
One psychological, for action by politicians.
The aim of the Coalition of Nations who have come together to protect the Libyan people is to set a level playing field for the tragic game of war to occur.
Make this thought experiment: if you got all the opposition together to settle their differences by fisticuffs, who do you think would win, in terms of numerical superiority and whole-hearted commitment?
The people will win.
So it is the duty of the Coalition, so far as is reasonably possible without putting civilian lives at risk, to neutralise Ghaddafi's air, sea tank and artillery. We have little influence now on this process, though some will try.
At the same time as the forces neutralise Ghaddafi's physical superiority, it is the duty of the Coalition politicians to put an end to the lies by which Ghaddafi controls his supporters by asking Nilesat and other channels to withdraw his service. Or jam his broadcasting bands. By breaking his psychological hold, the opposition freedom fighters will win far more swiftly. We can certainly have an influence on this part of the process, because the Foreign and Commonwealth Office seems not to have a view on it yet. All we have to do is to ask our MPs why it is not happening.
So. There are two ways that we, as intelligent people can contribute to this process of doing getting the war to end as soon as possible.
- We can sit down and theorise about what went wrong, what is going wrong, and what will go wrong in the future.
- We can press our democratic representatives to call for action to close down Ghaddafi's broadcast facilities.
I'm going for option 2.