Libya; Coalition Fragments


As I described last week in "Gotcha!," the manufactured outrage from Westminster which has been on permanent transmission this week, about the phone hacking scandal has a "hollow and tinny sound," to my ears. Watching our apparent Members of Parliament, members of the government and parliamentary committees descend to the level of feral cats in trying to out do one another has been yet another unedifying spectacle. 

The least qualified entity in the country to critisise anyone in these matters is the entity mostly responsible for the growth of media influence over our national institutions. They may have legal authority but they have no moral authority.

So now, the House of Commons is fully engaged in unleashing its attack dogs on the media and police. The last time the House of Commons was similarly fully engaged was over the expenses scandal. That scandal too was created by the same institution. Anyone see a pattern emerging here? In fact, it seems to your humble observer that the House spends most of it's time running round in circles attempting to put out fires of its own making. 

Meanwhile, fires are burning elsewhere and are mostly off the front page. One such fire continues to be our ill advised adventure in Libya.

Our involvement in the Libyan conflict remains perplexing yet neither David Cameron or any minister have adequately articulated why we are there and what the aim of being there is beyond getting rid of Gadhaffi. There is absolutely no national interest involved, that much is very clear. The heads of the RAF and Navy meanwhile recently let us, and everyone else, into the secret that they would not be able to sustain operations beyond September without making cuts elsewhere............ which is something of a worry given no one is shooting back at them......... so far.

Yet the war has been dragging on for months and no one appears to have any clue as to potential timelines for resolution, be it political or warlike. The rebels are tribally based and tribally fractured and whilst we are told that progress is being made in turning them into a more cohesive force it wouldn't appear to me to have solid foundation. There don't appear to be many political options open either, especially given Gadhaffi has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in the Hague which provides a major disincentive to Gadhaffi leaving Libya or negotiating. This of course, was a major obstacle to finding a resolution in the Balkans with Milosevic. The bottom line is Gadhaffi has nothing to lose by fighting to the end.

Whilst minimal progress is being made on the ground the coalition is, after four months looking shaky. Italy has said it wants out, has halved its funding and is quickly hedging its position. France meanwhile, once the most hawkish country and the key instigator in the current action, is beginning to soften its position. In the backround the Russians are hovering and appear positioned to leverage their Libyan relationships as mediators. Slowly, the penny is dropping that the air campaign is unlikely to work and coalition members are beginning to sniff out alternative exits, as are the Americans who have been in the shadows of the campaign with logistical and intelligence support. 

It remains to be seen if the penny has yet dropped in No 10. I would think it probably has and the phone scandal has offered good top cover while they work on their position at the coalition meeting in Istanbul today. The big problem though remains the Libyan leader and his henchmen; what possible incentive do they have for talking to anyone when talks would result in a one way ticket to the Hague?

Standby for more "hollow and tinny," sounds from Westminster.