Yesterday we had a Prime-ministerial performance from David Cameron explaining to the House of Commons why it was essential to intervene in Libya. There were many lining themselves up behind him like Rifkind while espousing lessons of history to justify intervention.
Ed Miliband has also lined up behind the argument for an international response and a no fly zone, more cautious than the Cameron crusade but nevertheless a consensus has developed.
Tim Montgomerie tweeted how “Brave” David Cameron was for calling for a no fly zone. This must be just about the most perverse use of the word Brave I have heard.
The arguments over intervention in Libya are complicated and involve many risks. The debate yesterday involved people trying to learn the lessons of history. However, the spectre of Iraq was not the only ghost overlooking proceedings.
There are so many conflicts that hardly register on the Richter scale of UN intervention that it is hard not to be cynical that the ones we tend to intervene in have some economic or geo-political significance.
Inflated language like “millions of people” in danger in Libya does not live up to scrutiny, where as in Zimbabwe this was certainly the case.
The Hypocrisy sadly for the western powers is continually apparent as just when David Cameron tried to look at his most statesman like, Saudi Arabia marched into Bahrain with armoured vehicles to quell opposition to the regime.
On humanitarian grounds both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are fairly reprehensible, even if those like Piers Morgan do not think so. There are also dynamics within the middle east that the west can hardly understand. The conflict between Shia and Sunni Muslims has its part to play as minorities control majorities in the region, causing resentment.
Warnings have been issued regarding the price of oil that unrest on the Saudi Peninsular would cause. $200 a barrel gets a mention, striking fear in the wallets of leaders around the world.
There has been no outrage at what is going on in either of these countries, no clammer for sanctions or intervention, and barely any pressure on the regimes at all.
This is not just because of our energy reliance on the region, old alliances or economic ties and arms exports, but also because of the connection with Iran as a Shia nation. At all costs, the west does not want another Shia state in the region, the dynamics are complicated and the west wants nothing to do with it.
Libya on the other hand means a fight between good and evil, a mad man who needs to be stopped. A Hollywood film in the making and a crusade to blank out the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yesterday more than any other day so far shows the hypocrisy of the international community. Pick and chose the dictators we like and can sell arms to, wage war against the others.
This is about as far from “Brave” as you can get.
Reports from the middle east are awash with more deaths reported in Bahrain today. Tension is rising as the gap between the despotic powers and the protesters widen. The EU and US are urging “restraint”, while the US is trying to arrange Saudi help in arming rebels in Libya.
Although the Shia Muslim majority have said that there may be intervention by Iran if Saudi Arabia and others intervened, it is believed that this will not be the case and Iran may keep a “hands off” approach.
Latest reports state 2 people dead, one from the security forces and one a protester, with the declaration of a 3 month state of emergency.(BBC report http://bbc.in/fZzASL) Another report heard was from a relative of one of the protesters who has stated a massacre taking place with scores injured, this however, is yet to be confirmed. (Channel 4 report http://bit.ly/eo7K6P)
Aljazeera have reported over 1000 people being treated in hospital over the last 3 days with severe injuries from tear gas. Staff in hospitals are fatigued by working around the clock, and more deaths from those who are injured are expected.
Silence on the conflicts on the Saudi Peninsula with condemnation in Libya is hardly fitting for a Prime Minister who is trying to shake off the hawkish intent of the Blair government.
Monbiot Blog on this subject http://www.monbiot.com/2011/03/14/oil-and-trouble/