OPINION: Why we shouldn’t be in Libya

The Prime Minister is an opportunist covering up Foreign Office incompetence

‘US to send armed drones to Libya’ said the BBC website this morning. That’s no way to talk about GIs, but my main issue is with the ‘armed’ bit in that description. The news that America was sending unarmed drones to Libya would suggest that they weren’t trying very hard on this one – and certainly that’s the impression Barack Obama has been giving since Day One. You get the feeling that if the whole thing could be done virtually, he’d be a much happier bunny.

On the other hand, maybe he simply has a few brain cells more than the FCO, and their two willing associates William Hague and David Cameron. I am implacably opposed to our Libyan involvement, for all the right reasons.

First, we have to have a scale of importance in these our years of British bankruptcy. Libya isn’t Czechoslovakia or Poland. It isn’t  even Afghanistan. It is however a potential Iraq in the making. Britain is broke, and ill-equipped to take on this job: thanks to an unholy alliance of Labour largesse and banker arrogance, we cannot afford this kind of thing any more.

Second, assuming naively that there might be some moral dimension to our intervention, on one side is Gaddafi. He is obviously round the twist, and has been for decades. So was Sadam Hussein – and look where that got us: 56 dead in London, to absolutely no purpose. On the other side is…..um, well – we’re not entirely sure. Take a look at the Egyptians two months after their ‘Spring’. We are very probably helping people who will be bombing us within five years – and helping to complete the encirclement of Israel. (Cue lots of obscene anti-semitic ramblings from the Sons of Allah and their loony camp-followers).

Third, where is the consistency in all this? Gaddafi blows up a plane over Scotland, and Brown schemes to get the perpetrator back to Tripoli in return for a grubby oil deal for BP. Dubya decides to avenge his dad and complete the job on Sadam: and suddenly Gaddafi is our ally, the lucky recipient of embraces from Tony Blair. Then the Arab tribe in Benghazi decides to throw off the dictator (only took them thirty years) and suddenly Gaddafi is the Devil incarnate – the deserving recipient of a good kicking while he’s down….just three months after the FCO’s Libyan desk was licking his henchmen all over in pursuit of another trade deal.

Fourth, I’m afraid in this instance, the issue really is oil. Not Libyan oil (they don’t make enough of it to bother) but the stability of the region in terms of the price of oil. The Slog asserted before Libya blew up that the Putin’s game-plan all along was the creation of chaos in the region in order to raise the price of oil. The security services (and Mossad, and Wikileaks) knew perfectly well this was going on. Don’t they ever talk to the FCO? Or is the 75 year-old turf war still going on, to the detriment of every British citizen – and, 25 years ago, the inhabitants of the Falkland Isles?

The gobsmacked diplomats taken completely by surprise by the Benghazi revolt (a partly tribal argument they spectacularly failed to spot) points up only too well that they have few if any contacts in that group of revolutionaries. Our Libyan involvement has been cobbled together to ensure the Russians don’t get back in again – and we’re seen to have helped the victors.

In fact, the Russians are just as dated in their view of the world as the pinstripes of Whitehall are. The commonality across all the Spring revolts in North Africa has been Arabism: riches for the Arabs, not for dictators in league with the West or the Russians. We have no role to play in that world: to imagine we do underlines the narrow incompetence of all those politicos and Sir Humphreys involved in trying to cling on.

Cameron is like Blair and Thatcher: an opportunist trying to turn a cockup into a legacy. The truth is that, when it comes to this slow escalation, the Prime Minister doesn’t have  a leg to stand on.