If the West doesn’t act, Gaddafi will massacre the rebels

The alternative to military action to take out Gaddafi is to stand aside and watch as the tyrant perpetrates a massacre of his own people and Libya risks collapsing into a failed state.

As former Army Captain Patrick Bury reported yesterday, it is now highly likely that in the absence of outside military intervention the rebels will either be defeated outright or a protracted civil war will unfold.


Even so, it is not too late for Western governments, acting in concert with key regional allies in the Arab League, Gulf Co-operation Council and African Union, to respond to protect the rebellion and safeguard their own long-term interests. At stake for both NATO and the region is credibility and stability.

Western governments are guilty in the meantime of a failure to respond responsibly to the Libyan crisis.

In the case of Britain, which has correctly called for a No Fly Zone from the outset, the government has nonetheless allowed its rhetoric to outstrip its capacity: making a botched deployment of a ‘diplomatic team’ with the SAS and proceeding with dangerous defence cuts amidst the crisis further limiting British force projection capability.

Abroad, the Obama administration has allowed its rhetoric to outstrip its willingness to act, with outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates refusing to sanction a No Fly Zone. The French government, meanwhile, is the most out-on-a-limb having gone so far as to recognise the rebels as the official government of Libya.

If, as seems increasingly likely, the rebellion now fails the credibility of Western powers will be battered.

The region now faces even greater instability with a resurgent Gaddafi able to cause chaos on energy supplies to the EU, a major refugee crisis affecting Libya’s neighbours and an unfolding humanitarian disaster. The prospect of a vengeful Gaddafi seeking retribution against the Western governments that called for his ousting should also concentrate ministers’ minds as they consider the long-term implications of a possible return by Libya to state sponsored terrorism should he be allowed to remain in power.

America, Britain and France have one last chance to retain their credibility, act honourably towards the rebels they have constantly encouraged and support stability in the Middle East and North Africa. However Germany, backed by Russia, has today blocked plans for a Libya No-Fly Zone.

Under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, NATO can impose an immediate No Fly Zone acting in co-operation with regional allies like the Arab League who already support such a move. Should that prove insufficient then airstrikes in support of the rebels should be considered.

The alternative is to stand aside and watch as Gaddafi perpetrates a massacre of his own people and Libya risks collapsing into a failed state.

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22 Responses to “If the West doesn’t act, Gaddafi will massacre the rebels”

  1. Shaun Dyer

    RT @leftfootfwd: If the West doesn't act, Gaddafi will massacre the rebels: http://bit.ly/hOdsxE writes @MarcusARoberts #Libya #FreeLibya

  2. Finola Kerrigan

    RT @leftfootfwd: If the West doesn't act, Gaddafi will massacre the rebels: http://bit.ly/hOdsxE writes @MarcusARoberts #Libya #FreeLibya

  3. kimberly grace

    great synopsis of why #west needs to act in #libya – argues western powers have "one last chance to…act honorably" http://bit.ly/hGUwYM

  4. John Rentoul

    Naive geographical determinism, but surely the thing about Libya is that the rebels can be supplied by sea @leftfootfwd http://bit.ly/ff2b1P

  5. Stephen W

    My God we should get in their and help these people fighting desperately for their freedom before they are all massacred on our doorstep. Thank God Cameron has at least had some balls about the whole thing. The Germans and Obama should be ashamed of themselves. They are fiddling while Rome burns, while lives are being lost. Cowardice of the highest order.

Comments are closed.