Cameron & Libya. Regime Change by any other name still smells…

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    Or –

    19th March 2011

    Still smells… as sweet?

    Yes, if it works, Mr Cameron. If it doesn’t, don’t say you weren’t warned.

    A reminder –


    At the last post I used a 5 minute video clip of Blair at his majestic best on 18th March 2003 during the  Parliamentary debate on Iraq.

    Blair fights for his political survival in the parliamentary debate on the Iraq Invasion, 18th March 2003. He said he had never called for regime change. He won the vote, due to Conservative party support.

    The video deserves a post to itself.  Watch it here at BBC Democracy Live.

    For comparison, read David Cameron’s remarks yesterday in response to a question in the House on regime change:

    Mr James Arbuthnot (North East Hampshire) (Con): Yet again, my right hon. Friend has shown a breathtaking degree of courage and leadership. I support what he has said and what he has done. Does he agree that, while regime change is not the aim of these resolutions, in practice there is little realistic chance of achieving their aims without regime change?

    18th March, 2011. Cameron tells parliament HE has done everything legally and through the proper UN channels. When asked, he does not deny that regime change in Libya is on the agenda. Which of these premiers is the more principled? The one who risked all, and despite winning the vote lost credibility in some quarters, though NOT calling for regime change - or the one who used the no-fly zone shield to achieve regime change?

    The Prime Minister: My right hon. Friend puts it extremely well. The aim is clear: to put in place what has been required by the UN Security Council, which is a cessation of hostilities. It is the protection of lives and the protection of people. It is the prevention of a bloodbath in Benghazi. It is to make sure that arms do not get to Libya, that assets are frozen and that travel bans are imposed. It is all those things. Those are the aims, and they are what we must now pursue.

    Of course, like many other leaders the world over, we have all said that Gaddafi needs to go in order for Libya to have a peaceful, successful and democratic future, and that remains the case. It is almost impossible to envisage a future for Libya that includes him. But we should be very clear, in the international alliance that we are building, that the statements in the UN Security Council resolution are our aims. Those are the things that, on behalf of the rest of the world, we are helping, with others, to deliver.

    As the Tory-backing Telegraph put it so clearly here in 2005 – “Regime change is illegal: End of debate”

    Alasdair Palmer: “Regime change,” insisted the Attorney General, “cannot be the object of military action.” Any invasion which had that goal would be unambiguously illegal under international law. As everyone knows now, and knew perfectly well then, the whole point of the invasion of Iraq was regime change.

    I’m sure you’ll be fine though, Mr Cameron.  No undeserved “war criminal” tag for you for the next ten years! After all, you are about to impose regime change from on high. Just as Bill Clinton hoped to do over Kosovo, until a far wiser, more honest and more principled friend persuaded him otherwise, international law or not!

    Remember – just “do the right thing”.



    Obama Statement on Libya Leaves Many Questions

    I listened to President Obama’s entire statement on the situation in Libya, and I still don’t know what he has planned. I know that he extended the demands on Gadhafi. This is no longer about just protecting the people of Benghazi, “a city of 700,000 people.” Obama explicitly said that all attacks must stop – there’s some question of whether Gadhafi is honoring the cease-fire – as per the UN resolution. But he also said that Gadhafi’s forces must pull back from other cities, that supply lines must be established to them, and that humanitarian supplies must be allowed in. And he intimated that the credibility of the international community is on the line. “The words of the international community would be rendered hollow” if they did not act to stop Gadhafi.

    So we know that there will be military action to enforce the resolution. But while what Obama listed as demands appears to go mostly within the lines of the text of Resolution 1973 – humanitarian supplies are referenced, as well as attacks against civilians beyond Benghazi – I still don’t know what happens if all of that is fulfilled. Because you’d still have a situation where Gadhafi is in power in at least Tripoli, and a rebel force in power in other major cities. There’s talk in the resolution of a solution “which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people,” but since they tagged Gadhafi for crimes against humanity, I can’t see how any solution would include him. So is this regime change? That’s not mentioned in the document. Explicitly, the resolution excludes “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory,” and that would seem to exclude Special Forces operating in concert with Libyan revels.

    The President was clear that ground troops would not be committed, that the British, French and Arab League would take a leadership role and that they would help bear the responsibility and the cost. Indeed, I would expect British and French planes to be the first flying over Libya. Moreover, the President said that “Change in the region will not be imposed by the US or any foreign power, but driven by the people of the Arab world… Our goal is focused, our cause is just and our coalition is strong.”

    I cannot discern the goal, however. It certainly sounds like regime change when it comes out of the mouth of the French government…. (more here)

    Oh how Cameron & Obama must wish that Blair’s Doctrine of the International Community had been adopted universally in 1999. It would make all this mealy-mouthed/tough-but-tender language redundant.

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