2007 - 2022

State Failure: the Conservative Government, Westminster and Britain

libya-bombing-2011The House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chaired by Crispin Blunt, a Conservative MP, has produced what can only be described as a comprehensively damning report ‘Libya: Examination of intervention and collapse and the UK’s future policy options’ (HC 119, 14th September 2016) on David Cameron and the Conservative Government’s appalling policy blunders in Libya. The full report is to be found here.

Ironically the report is published the day after Cameron resigned as an MP, and only yesterday was presented to the British public almost across the print and broadcast media as a plausibly competent Prime Minster whose only mistake or greatest success was Brexit (except notably by the Daily Telegraph, but that is another story). A day is a long time in politics. Of course, he wasn’t competent. Here is the first paragraph of the Select Committee Report:

“In March 2011, the United Kingdom and France, with the support of the United States, led the international community to support an intervention in Libya to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi. This policy was not informed by accurate intelligence. In particular, the Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-Gaddafi Libya. The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa. Through his decision making in the National Security Council, former Prime Minister David Cameron was ultimately responsible for the failure to develop a coherent Libya strategy.”

This article is not written as an act of political opportunism. Bella Caledonia published two articles specifically on British policy and its consequences in Libya, written in a small attempt to draw attention to the appalling policy failures committed by Britain that turned Libya into a failed state, overrun by terrorists, which gave IS/Daesh a platform of operation in Libya, and turned the Mediterranean red with blood, and the washed-up human debris created by chaos and anarchy. The first artilce was ‘Walking Away: the Formation of British Foreign Policy’ (24th February, 2015).

The second was ‘Deserting Libya: the rhetoric of British foreign policy’ (28th Spetember, 2015).

In this second article I closed with the following argument, which I think relevant because it confirms that anyone prepared to read then what was openly available to inspection in the public domain, and think carefully about the British government’s policy, could see that British policy was seriously defective and Britain was committing a blunder of major proportions that would have long and bitter consequences. I wrote then that I had attempted in the first article ‘Deserting Libya’ very carefully only to use Government sources or sources/evidence that could scarcely be challenged by Government, in order to explore the failure and self-delusion of British Foreign Policy in Libya. I believed the Government’s position on Libya was annihilated by the swiftness and the scale of the catastrophe it recklessly invited upon its botched policy; and not least by the fact that the clear and manifest opposition of wiser and more experienced judgement (or simple attention to obvious facts and bitterly earned experience) was ignored by irresponsible and too easily influenced British politicians who quite clearly lacked either judgement or experience.

Such articles were met by indifference in official or political circles, or mere hubris, ignorance or folly in the mainstream media.

In another irony, this new Select Committee report follows an only too familiar tale of dubious intelligence, ‘hammed-up’ (not my term) media reporting and spin, and all the grotesqueries of modern British government that we have seen so often before both in home and foreign policy; so bad, so unsustainable, so obvious that it has finally sunk the last sad vestiges of Westminster’s credibility and integrity with the British people, and, ‘a fortiori’ and some time ago, with the Scottish people. The Select Committee Report simply repeats the familiar exposé of the same kinds of policy and intelligence failure that we saw in Iraq (but which took over a decade to extract the horror story of British blunders), in Afghanistan and in Syria.

We should not be beguiled into believing that this is purely a failure of David Cameron alone; how much the Conservative Party prays that the public will buy that canard, and pass over the cesspit of squabbling ferrets improbably led by such as May, Johnson and Fox, paralysed into political catalepsy by their own folly over Brexit, that is the hallmark of this Conservative Government. They survive only because the Labour Party is unelectable, and that brings us back to the real problem at the bottom of this concatenation of hapless political failures: Westminster. It is not merely Cameron, or the Conservative Party that has failed, but Westminster itself: the British State that has failed the British people. Cameron merely follows Blair as a well-groomed, over-promoted victim of British hubris undone. Meanwhile, David Cameron slinks into the long grass merely to avoid exposing the contradictions that will develop within the Conservative Government and Party, or making obvious the toxic intellectual imbecilities at the heart of the Party. This resignation is all about appearances.

Comments (65)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Haideng says:

    ‘Westminster. It is not merely Cameron, or the Conservative Party that has failed, but Westminster itself: the British State that has failed the British people.’

    OK, this maybe so, but neither does it in anyway justify the legitamacy of an independent Scotland. To claim as much is to indulge in moral luck, and unempirical conjecture.

    1. Frank says:

      You are getting boring.

      1. Haideng says:

        As did every anti fascist in history. boooooorrreeee away.

    2. Robert Graham says:

      Oh fuck off and that’s being polite, care in the community really needs a complete overhaul when nut jobs are allowed free access to a keyboard.

  2. Haideng says:

    Given the fact that what you rightly describe as a ‘disasterous intervention in Libya’ was in fact a multinational coalition led by NATO but involving Sweden among others, and heavily involving other states such as Germany, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, France… it musty also follow that these States failed also.

    Sorry but this is nothing but political opportunism and is an affront to all those suffering in Libya that you are using the disaster to further your own narrow agenda.

    On the other hand there is a more interesting debate to be had about the nature of liberal intervention, and if at all it is ever justified? A very complex and ethically difficult question. After all lets not forget why the UN sanctioned intervention against Ghaddaffi – had to do with the fact he was about targeting civilians including the use of chemical weapons (just like Syria where failure of Britain and NATO/ UN to act or intervene has led to exactly the same outcome if not the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war.

    Tricky seeing both sides (Although I was broadly against intevention at the time).

    1. Alex P says:

      France, Lebanon and the UK proposed Resolution 1973 in the United Nations Security Council with the support of the United States. As a proposer, the UK had special responsibility for the conduct and aftermath of the intervention. Other countries supported the resolution, but such support could be attributed to support for the proposers rather than the proposition. The criticism of the UK’s actions and inactions are recorded in a Parliamentary Report. The article in Bella Caledonia merely comments on that report.

      1. James R says:

        No Bella Caledonia does not merely mention this it crassly uses it for their own political ends.

        1. John S Warren says:

          “…the UN sanctioned intervention against Ghaddaffi – had to do with the fact he was about targeting civilians including the use of chemical weapons”.

          This is just not good enough. Clearly you have not read the Select Committee Report (or even my article): “the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element” (HC119: Summary). In the detailed Report the US opinion is revealed: “US intelligence officials reportedly described the intervention as ‘an intelligence-light decision’.

          The Report goes on:

          “We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya. It may be that the UK Government was unable to analyse the nature of the rebellion in Libya due to incomplete intelligence and insufficient institutional insight and that it was caught up in events as they developed. It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime; it selectively took elements of Muammar Gaddafi’s rhetoric at face value; and it failed to identify the militant Islamist extremist element in the rebellion. UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.” (HC119: Para. 38; quoting, The Washington Times, Hillary Clinton’s ‘WMD moment: US intelligence saw false narrative in Libya’, 29 January 2015)

          With all due respect, at least do a little work before commenting.

          1. Haideng says:

            whether you are right or wrong is not the issue about this issue. The point made is that your motivation is Scottish nationalism and nothing more.

          2. Bella has been publishing critical analysis of the British State for almost decade. It’s our editorial position that there are deep structural and cultural issues with Britain, the British State and its key institutions which are unreformable and ireedemable. If you find that basic stance unpalatable maybe this site isn’t for you. Given this I’m not sure how useful or satisfying it is going to be for you to daily berate and harass every writer and commenter.

            What do you thinks going to happen?

          3. John S Warren says:

            “The point made is that your motivation is Scottish nationalism and nothing more.”

            I am not a Scottish Nationalist. My criticism of Westminster, however is fundamental. How that is fixed is a matter for debate, of which independence is a viable solution, but only one among others. At the time of the 2014 Referendum I advocated a two question Referendum and considered either DevoMax or Federalism viable solutions. I still do, but the British State is obdurate.

            I have made this position clear over numberless articles since 2014. You claim is not only wrong but obviously wrong.

          4. John S Warren says:

            “whether you are right or wrong is not the issue about this issue”.

            Actually you spent most of your first comment attempting to show that I was wrong and using thoroughly bad arguments to do so; demonstrating only that you had not read anything relevant to the issue at stake.

            Then you turn back to what appears to be your own ideological obsession with Nationalism and spurious accusations against me based on unsound arguments. At this point, frankly I lose interest.

  3. Graeme McCormick says:

    The obvious lesson to be drawn from this is that an independent Scotland must carve out its own defence and foreign policy and this may require a reassessment of NATO membership.

    As a first step we should be seeking the views of our friends in Denmark as to the Danish people’s view on their government’s repeated international military interventions which appear to demonstrate an eagerness to play with the Big boys without proper reflection.

  4. Thrawn says:

    As I have asked you before on your discussions on this subject…are you arguing solely that the execution of the intervention was botched, or that the very idea of any intervention to help the Libyan rebels overthrow a brutal repressive dictator was inherently wrong?

    If it is, as I suspect, the latter, then I would point you to Syria if you want to see how a policy of non-intervention in that scenario would work.

    1. James R says:

      I think the author is arguing that anything the British state does is inherently wrong because his sole agenda is to further Scottish nationalism. It’s typical reductive nationalism. It has nothing to do with the wider complexities of Liberal democracy and the rights or wrongs of intervention for either economic or humanitarian reasons. And you make a very good point. It seems to me that the difference between the moral judgements on military intervention depend more on the outcome than the motivation. If successful then good if not then bad.

      e.g)Kosovo, Sierra Leone – good/ justified liberal defence of humantarianism ….Libya, Syria, Afghanistan – bad, unjustified imperialism.

      The notion that an independent Scotland (if it is to have any sort of foreign policy won’t also be subject to these paradoxes is plain stupid.

      Ommission – non intervention is also an ethical choice.

      1. Dire criticism of British foreign policy aren’t confined to Scottish nationalists James? Cross party English MPs were scathing of Cameron’s policy in Libya and the idea that our tragic misadventure in Afghanistan and Iraq can only be criticised to further ‘rductive nationalism’ is bizarre.

        Of course an independent Scotland would face difficult decisions and paradoxes. No doubt. But we’d be making those difficult decisions.

        1. Thrawn says:

          Fair enough but right now the default reflex in Scottish nationalism in any discussion of foreign policy is that because the UK is bad : UK foreign policy = bad/evil. To me that is facile and fundamentally immature

          1. I suppose the argument is that British Foreign policy isn’t just a disaster because of simple bad decisions, bad policies and bad administrations from Arms to Iraq, to Matrix Churchill, to BAE’s Saudi arms deal, to Raytheon. to Trident 2 and on and on through Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron. The argument is that there are structural drivers at the heart of the British State that make it more predisposed to aggressive military intervention. If you think that’s ‘nationalist’ then so be it but its an analysis shared by most of the peace movement in Western Europe and most of the progressive left in Britain and beyond.

        2. James R says:

          I am critical of British foreign policy. I marched against Iraq and was very sceptical of the motives for Libya. What I object to is this virtue signalling, this reduction of complexity and the use of failed foreign policy to further another singular cynical agenda. Feel free to criticise the Tories and foreign policy, but please don’t undermine that criticism by claiming it is somehow a reflection of a 300 year old state which has a very very eclectic foreign policy. Or more so that Scotland will somehow does not follow the same self interested agenda. If you dislike Western interference in the Mid east then start at home and write an article attacking the SNP for giving licencing rights to BP in the North Sea. Have some consistency.

          1. John S Warren says:

            I provided the link to two earlier articles on Libya. Reference was made to the dangerous fact that a significant part of the problem of intervention was that Britain did not know who the rebels were. It is quite clear that British Intelligence could not identify who the rebels were. IS established a foothold. These are the facts.

            Why not at least read the articles before criticising the argument wholesale?

        3. Doubting Thomas says:

          Mr Ed
          Have you ever considered that overall despite the Indy support represented in here that just maybe people believe that they are better off in the UK?
          Does it ever occur to you that you probably won’t convince people that independence fulfills there needs is wants.
          Try a radical approach and show us how the deficit will be addressed. Go on just once. See if you can make a difference.

          1. John S Warren says:

            I am trying very hard here; and perhaps I am just being obtuse, but I fail to see what the deficit has to do with Libya.

          2. Doubting Thomas says:

            John S Warren
            Perhaps should try harder.
            If you had read my response you would see that it was addressed to our illustrious editor.
            My point which you obviously missed was that your contribution whilst being promoted as underpinning the case for independence was totally irrelevant to this.
            Your underlying assertion that all things British are bad and the editors suggestion that bad political decisions would be more acceptable if we were independent does not convince.
            It’s the economy stupid!
            If you think that “I told you so” diatribes such as yours makes any difference to the case for independence you are totally wrong.
            My question to our own Mr Ed was clear and remains unanswered not only by him to be fair but by Wee Nicola.
            You claim you are not a Scottish Nationalist so does that mean you are one of the others who jumped on side with them to try to force independece at any cost.
            That would be obtuse if it were the case.
            As well as being utterly dishonest.
            Must try harder!

          3. John S Warren says:

            “I fail to see what the deficit has to do with Libya”. Period.

            I made clear that I am not a Scottish Nationalist but that it is for me a viable option; as is DevoMax or Federalism. Frankly I have no interest whatsoever in your opinion of me but you fail badly on the test of relevance and persuasiveness.

          4. John S Warren says:

            I am however grateful that you have revealed with such transparent clarity over several comments, with some prompts from me, the nature of the opposition to the position I take, the paucity of argument you possess and the crude use you make of the ‘argumentam ad hominem’. Please continue in the same vein, it does no harm to my case and makes my life so much easier.

          5. Doubting Thomas says:

            So summing up your case: you took the hump that the MSM ignored your opinion.
            How very dare they!
            You are a person of no particular conviction when it comes to the question of independence.
            Oh and I nearly forgot you don’t like it when people think your inane rambling is …..inane.
            Sorry but the only transparent clarity here is your inflated sense of self importance and intellect.
            Did someone else convey this perception recently?

          6. John S Warren says:

            I shall leave you to it; you are free-wheeling admirably on your own. It is what you do best. I think you have the hang of it. Take it away!

  5. bringiton says:

    It is highly unlikely that an independent Scotland would get involved in many of these “interventions”.
    Almost all of them in the Middle East have been about regime change dressed up as “humanitarian interventions” but have ended up creating situations which have only made things worse.
    Had it not been for Western oil interests the Middle East would be a very different place now and Europe would not have the flood of refugees fleeing war torn countries.

    1. James R says:

      I’m not sure it’s so entirely black and white. Yes in Libya there was certainly the motivation that BP had huge oil contracts – but these were offered under Gaddaffi prior to the civil war – so if it was only about Oil then why didn’t the UK not instead side with Gaddaffi or in fact stay silent and tacitly help him defeat the rebels? That was the better way to secure the contracts and development – after all UK/ West turns a blind eye to all manner of despot for commercial and economic reason? So there must have been some humanitarian issues also at play.

      As for Scotland being different and not subject to this economic reality and problems of intervention there are all sorts of things they (the Scottish government) could do right now starting with the refusal to allow BAE and other weapons manufacturers planning permission for factory sites and licenses for labs (there are more per capita in Scotland than the rest of the UK). They could also refuse to let the British government complete contracts in Scottish ship yards if the state has failed. They could also refuse all economic ties with any government with a bad track record on human rights and blacklist Scottish companies that operate there- China, UAE, Saudi, Libya!, Iraq, Russia (oh I forgot they re best chums with Putin – my enemys enemy etc.) and so on.

      So why don’t they? Otherwise articles like this lack any moral authority.

  6. Colin McKerron says:

    As is evident throughout the Middle East, the turmoil has been perpetuated by the covert and clandestine influence of Zionist Israel. It is well understood that the British Government and to a greater extent American Congress and Senate have been under it’s spell and manipulation for many years. It would appear that many, so called experts are too embedded in the wood, to see the trees. Cameron and his Government AND his predecessors have been Zionist apologists, since capitulating to Jewish Zionists blackmail during WW1 which, in turn, coerced America to intervene. Now that Cameron has gone, he’s just another convenient,’arse to kick!’ If you want to be taken seriously, Mr BellaCaledonia, let’s openly discuss, ‘Out of control Israel,’ the fundamental and underlining problem which is putting the world at risk.

    1. Thrawn says:

      And apparently they capture Christian children and use their blood for religous rituals…Oh and the Holocaust was a hoax of course

      1. Colin McKerron says:

        Is that the best you can do?

        1. Thrawn says:

          Probably not…but didn’t need much more to make you look like a bigoted fool

          1. Colin McKerron says:

            Precisely what I thought, totally immersed in the MSM bullshite!

    2. James R says:

      Scot nats trotting out the blood liable/ global Jewish conspiracy in 2016 – Jesus how depressing.

    3. florian albert says:

      Re Colin McKerron, ‘Jewish Zionists blackmail during WW1 which, in turn, coerced America to intervene’

      Does the Editor of Bella Caledonia really consider this acceptable comment on this website ?

  7. Epearson says:

    Great article, thank you.

  8. Alf Baird says:

    As Craig Murray rightly states, Britain’s problem over the past century and more has been the Flashman mentality, or what Ming Campbell once described as the need to have the ‘right sort of person’ in the Foreign Office. Britain’s ongoing policy disasters are therefore largely due to the odd cultural mindset of the small coterie of privileged private school / elite university types who make the big decisions on behalf of us plebs. To a large extent the same ‘right sort of person’ still heads up much of institutional Scotland, despite a decade of supposed ‘nationalist’ government, and this ‘elite’ would probably still be running Scotland (down) even after independence – if we let them.

  9. Thrawn says:

    Norway supported the Eritrean Independance movement and continues to give financial aid to Eritrea (for the less than noble reason to prevent further immigration from there to it) – Eritrea is listed by Humans Right Watch as having the worst humans right record in the world. It also participated in the Libya intervention destroying (along with Denmark) as many targets as UK

    Denmark has participated actively in all modern foreign interventions including Libya

    Sweden is home to SAAB a division of which is the 3rd biggest arms suppliers in the world…its direct customers include Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan and Myanmar – one scandal involving clandestine sales of technical support to Saudi Arabia led to the resignation of the defence minister. Sweden also participated in the Libya intervention…with some Swedish commentators stating one reason being to promote and sell the SAAB Gripen fighter

    All of them stood by and did nothing as humanitarian disasters unfolded in Rwanda, South Sudan, Darfur, Bosnia, Somalia and most recently Syria

    Small countries making difficult foreign policy decisions…with outcomes I am sure you do not agree with. Please do not pretend therefore that somehow there is any unique “structural driver” to the foreign policy decisions the UK takes and has taken.

    1. Haideng says:

      And next week Bella publishes an article about how the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami wouldn’t have happened if Scotland had been independent.

      1. Broadbield says:

        On some forums there is an “Ignore” button which makes the posts of people whom you find contemptible magically disappear. We could do with one on here.

        1. Thrawn says:

          Coincidentally Gaddafi had the same thing in Libya…only better as he could use in real life

  10. Broadbield says:

    Can someone point me to Mr Warren’s original article please? Clearly it has been hacked, because as far as I can see some of the usual suspects on here are criticising parts of his argument that for the life of me I cannot find in the article above. I have just done a word search for (Scottish) Nationalism which some seem to think is at the heart of the piece, but it turns up blank other than in some of the comments by people who appear to have problems reading and understanding.

    1. Thrawn says:

      His argument was that the outcome of the Libyan intervention was a disaster…I and others might dispute the scale of that “disaster” but I am certainly not going to argue that the outcome was positive. My question however, is would any other action or inaction have had a more positive response…with the situation in Syria pointing otherwise

      1. John S Warren says:

        The outcome of British policy in Libya was “not positive”.

        This is an almost faultless illustration of the use of euphemism to undermine compelling evidence. Here it is accompanied by the vacuous application of a comparison that nobody can make, because it cannot be made. It is an exercise in futility. Such is the way that disasters are explained away: nothing to see here. Notice that the Conservative headed Select Committee acknowledges the “collapse” of Libya in its title. The point here is that the commenter hopes that nobody has actiually read the evidence. So allow me to help – again.

        In my article I reproduced this summary sentence on Libya from the Select Committee Report:

        “The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”

        So let us list the substance of the ‘comment’ above.

        Economic collapse: “not positive”.

        Inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare: “not positive”.

        Humanitarian and migrant crises (dead bodies floating in the Mediterranean in their thousands): “not positive”.

        Widespread human rights violations: “not positive”.

        The spread of military weapons across the region: “not positive”.

        The growth of ISIL in North Africa (it did not have a usable presence in Libya before the collapse): “not positive”.

        Against this we are supposed to believe that without Britain’s irresponsible intervention nothing listed above would otherwise have been any worse. There is no evidence for this proposition, but the argument is not offered in order to prove anything at all, but to hide a policy catastrophe under a fog of spurious, diversionary rhetoric that carries the confused reader into fruitless dead-end arguments. I suggest to readers that they do not fall for for it. Let us look at some real facts.

        The Select Committee writes this about the ISIL threat:

        The FCO told us that ‘Political instability in Libya has led to a permissive environment for terrorist groups in which to operate, including ISIL affiliated groups’.


        Beginning in late 2014, ISIL took advantage of governmental weakness to seize territory and bases in Sabratha, Derna and Sirte. Malcolm Chalmers, Deputy Director-General, Royal United Services Institute, estimated ISIL manpower at between 3,000 and 6,000 fighters, many of whom are not Libyan. However, he added that Islamic State seems to be encouraging its supporters in North Africa to go to Libya now, rather than to Syria and Iraq, so the trajectory is probably upwards, but it is still relatively small and weak in strength compared with the accumulation of all the other Libyan armed forces.


        Libyan militias initially appeared relatively unconcerned by ISIL’s presence on the ground.


        Vice-Admiral Clive Johnstone, a Royal Navy officer and NATO commander, commented that: ‘We know they [ISIL] have ambitions to go offshore … There is a horrible opportunity in the future that a misdirected, untargeted round of a very high quality weapons system will just happen to target a cruise liner, or an oil platform, or a container ship’.

        Is “not positive” an adequate description of Britian’s policy disaster? I don’t think so.

        1. Thrawn says:

          Firstly…I find it ironic that someone who has so little faith in the competence of Westminster is happy to slavishly accept all the conclusions of one of its select committees…

          Secondly…if you want facts to show what it looks like when you don’t intervene when a dictator is attempting to stay in power in face of an armed rebellion…look at Syria.

          Finally you can argue (as you have..well the select committee have… quite convincingly) that the Libya intervention was a disaster. But to refuse to answer the obvious question that arises from that : “What would you have done instead and would it have had a better result” ; while taking ghoulish pleasure in the ongoing tragedy in Libya because it reinforces your personal worldview, is an exhibition of profound moral cowardice

          1. John S Warren says:

            I, or the Select Committee, argued “quite convincingly …. …. that the Libya intervention was a disaster”. For the avoidance of doubt that was what I claimed. The irony, you missed completely; perhaps you were asleep. I did not require the Select Committee to make the case; it was already established. The Select Committee merely revealed that even Westminster had to acknowledge the ‘game was up’ on defending the Libya policy; it was unsustainable (the ‘end-game’ was inevitable when Cameron resigned as PM). The Select Committee was very helpful to me, simply because there are still members of the public who find it difficult to believe we make such catastrophic mistakes in Britain; still others who are gullible unless prompted by ‘authority’, and a few, no doubt who cannot think for themselves.

            I did not require the Select Committee because I have been writing about this, and providing evidence (much of it – ironically – the Government’s own publicly available evidence) for two years. Unfortunately you were not interested in facts, but so eager to insult with as much personal bile as you could muster, that you apparently failed either to read the article, or follow the various links I helpfully provided to access the facts, and establish what I had written on the subject and the sources on which I relied. My sources were solid.

            I shall not fall to your level; I shall merely suggest that you were too lazy to do even the most basic work to make any kind of a case at all. Below I have spelled out just some of the arguments that should inform policy formation, since you are clearly too indolent to do anything for yourself.

            The current outcome in Libya was quite obvious to many critics when Britain formed its fatal policy. For example, The Brookings Institute (Santini and Varvelli) ‘The Libyan Crisis seen from European Capitals’ (1 June, 2011) argued that:

            “even if Qaddafi were to fall, the outcome might not be a peaceful transition to democracy but protracted instability or civil war that could have significant consequences for the region and for Europe. In the future the need for a process of national reconciliation in Libya, the creation of new institutions and a renewed balance between the various components of power will require a major commitment to “state building””.

            There was no major commitment to “state building” in British policy, but then there was no plan; no grasping of full responsibility for what Britain had so ably helped to set in motion. We have neither the resources nor the planning capacity for such actions; nor indeed, from all recent evidence across the globe, do we possess the basic competence, still less the resolve: the proof is in the only evidence that ever matters – the outcome. Britain took the worst possible route. It intervened, it had no plan, it was not prepared to back its policy with the scale of military action action that would be required to succeed (which was in any case very, very high risk), but then, abruptly moved seamlessly from belligerent to bystander when Gaddafi fell. This was uncannily close to the Iraq model; there was no plan. We simply walked away.

            Indeed, the consequences from Libya’s collapse have already spread out over the Mediterranean to Europe, in leaky vessels jammed with refugees; or it oozes slowly out of Libya over North Africa like a deadly virus. David Anderson, Professor of African Politics, University of Warwick, has suggested that the incursions of Boko Haram in Nigeria were at least in part enabled by the transfer of armaments from Libya, which fell into dangerous hands following the collapse of its central government (I wrote this last paragraph in my article early in 2015).

          2. Alex P says:

            To John Warren
            I have found the antagonistic responses to your article and subsequent clarifications astonishing. Some of the the comments are clearly made by Tory apologists, others by people who obviously don’t believe what they are saying, or are turning a Nelson blind eye to the facts.

      2. Broadbield says:

        My question would be, why does the West keep interfering with ill-conceived military intervention with little regard for the consequences or planning for afterwards? (or destabilising/overthrowing) The record since WW2 has been (largely) unmitigated disasters which have made the world more dangerous rather than safer and has cost millions of lives lost and/or ruined.

        1. Broadbield says:

          Above addressed to Thrawn. (could do with an Edit facility)

  11. Thrawn says:

    John S Warren

    OK you are 100% right…Libya was an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions and you are a titan of foreign policy thought unrivalled since Grotius…now that your ego is sufficently soothed will you please, please, PLEASE answer the question I have been asking from the beginning?

    “What would you have done instead and would it have had a better result?”

    1. John S Warren says:

      My ego? Was that sneer an apology? Do you really think that mere repetition of a frustrated, bad argument that you already know has no “result”, and can be designed solely to allow you to make smoke, or speculate ever more wildly about ‘what might have beens’: to rack up some sort of appalling (what was your word – ‘ghoulish’) theoretical comparable body count, which I could fairly presume must be your bleak political purpose. Whatever I say now would also have the advantage of hindsight, which merely illuminates the distorted nature of your purpose. I shall stick with what I have actually written. You are on a wretched route if you think what you are doing is constructive; it isn’t.

      In fact it is very easy to work out my views if you use the approved method. You could try reading (perhaps not in your case – your loss) and find out what I was saying; you have the links. In fact you could figure it out from what I gave you already.

      Work it out; it can be done.

      1. Thrawn says:

        Obviously you can’t summon the courage to say it yourself so I’ll try and say it for you:

        “Yes I would have not intervened in Libya and would have allowed the civil war to continue between Gaddafi and the rebels even to the point of allowing him to regain control of the country and repress those who opposed him, because, on the balance of probabilities, that outcome would have been far less harmful than that we can actually observe in Libya today”

        Do you agree that statement is a more or less a fair reflection of your point of view?

        1. John S Warren says:

          Do not presume to speak for me.

        2. John S Warren says:

          I am however grateful that you have revealed with such transparent clarity over several comments, with some prompts from me, the nature of the opposition to the position I take, the paucity of argument you possess and the crude use you make of the ‘argumentam ad hominem’. Please continue in the same vein, it does no harm to my case and makes my life so much easier.

          1. Thrawn says:

            What is revealing is that you perceive as a personal attack, any attempt to link your criticism of the Libya intervention with a real world decision that would have to be taken as a function of that criticism. I think this is because in your heart you know that if you did, then you, like the politicians (inside and outside of the UK) you so despise, would have to stand up and be counted and your choice judged and commented on…and your fear of that makes you angry and ashamed.

            Which is fine…it would terrify me as well to have to decide what to do in Libya and Syria and whatever will be the next foreign policy nightmare where lives will be lost whatever the choice made. But you know true bravery is not having an immunity to fear…it is embracing that fear and acting anyway. I hope you have the humility to learn that someday

    2. John S Warren says:

      It is not anger you are interpreting, but a sense of the ridiculous.

      What is ridiculous, but “revealing” is being lectured on “moral cowardice” (a form of cowardice we are presumably to disinguish from immoral cowardice?) from someone who resorts to personal abuse and my supposedly being ashamed, issuing from someone who reveals – only a pseudonym. Am I supposed to admire anonymous attacks as the standard of courage to be attained, and as establishing the depth of your convictions? At least my own name is attached to the articles and comments I write. I do not mind what you do, but your remarks are merely ridiculous. Physician heal thyself.

      I have no problem with your attacks; trust me, I am indifferent to your opinion. Carry on writing as you do; it does not harm to my case but your crude methodology reinforces it. So keep going.

  12. Doubting Thomas says:

    The problem for me is that even after holding a post mortem and ascertaining the cause of death the patient is still dead.
    Historically the depressing evidence is that the human condition repeats the mistakes made previously despite post mortems, enquiries etc.
    There is no doubt Blair and his cronies changed politics in this country and Cameron did not reverse the trends which increasingly see politicians being completely out of touch with the wishes of the electorate.
    Today’s politicians do not feel any more bound than their predecessors to represent public opinion.
    So what is the solution?
    Should we hang Blair, Straw, Campbell, Reid etc on the Labour side and Cameron etc on the Tory side for war crimes?
    What is the point of this “contribution”?
    To me it stinks of ” I told you so”!

  13. Broadbield says:

    Bella has a problem. Intelligent debate is being subverted by some “commenters” pursuing their own agendas, with no relevance to the original article, resulting in those who are actually interested in the topic being side-tracked into unprofitable diversions.

    1. Doubting Thomas says:

      Well…. You could always ban freedom of expression……and like the Natsies only have one commentator.
      Now that would be a problem.

      1. Broadbield says:

        Why do you use the word “Natsies”? How does that add to the discussion? It’s banal, stupid, offensive and immature. And I’ve just proved my own point.

        1. Doubting Thomas says:

          Aw diddums!
          Catch yersel on sonny!
          Yer intelligent debate disnae stand up to scrutiny.
          And I’m afraid I could not care less about you “opinion”.
          It counts no more or less than anyone else’s even if you think it does.

          1. Broadbield says:

            “And I’m afraid I could not care less about you “opinion”.” That’s fine with me. But when you use that term you may wish to reflect on what it means and how it is an insult not only to a Scottish Social Democratic party and its supporters (which is almost irrelevant), but more importantly to the millions who were dispossessed, tortured and killed throughout Europe and those who died fighting against the tyranny and whose countless sufferings have enabled you to freely make such moronic comments without, apparently, even understanding what you are saying. But then this is the depths of asininity to which Unionists have sunk when they find they have no sensible arguments to make.

          2. Doubting Thomas says:

            Ah Broad bield old chap one must learn to keep one’s heid when responding.
            You probably did no notice my posts elsewhere in here a few days ago when I advised I had lived and worked in Germany.
            In Munich to be precise.
            And I am acutely aware of the horrors of the 20th century caused by National Socialism having spent time researching their actions and visiting the various museums which maintain the information required to enable us never to forget.
            In Scotland the term Natsies seems to have arisen from certain similarities which people consider to be relevant.
            One of these might be the constant assertion of a minority of the population that their political views are the only correct views and are the only ones in the best interests of Scotland.
            Another might be the deliberate positioning of the leader of the movement as the only spokesperson appearing at every opportunity to make announcements and pronunciations on every subject.
            The message always she and only she knows what’s best.
            Remind you of anyone from history?
            I grant you she is not as extreme and that since her popularity seems to be waning that this recently seems to be changing but you must acknowledge that the perception some people hold is directly the result of the actions of the party.
            Although she and her unseen husband seem really to be the party as all control is in their hands.

          3. Doubting Thomas says:

            Och at my age technology can sometimes be far too clever for me!
            But I was also going to point out the various similarities in the words used in title and description.
            Nationalist, socialist, democratic, progressive.
            These words have been used by the people promoting party image regularly.
            Perhaps just an unfortunate comparison is being made because of these words and a simple return to roots would be a good idea.
            But I suspect calling them “The Tartan Tories” might also be considered offensive albeit historically true.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.