|Blair and Gaddafi in March 2004|
As Colonel Gaddafi rails in his own distinct inimitable way, the tyrant should see that his time has come to go. If the armed forces continue to rebel and side with the protesters then Tripoli will fall quickly. However, given the wealth of the bribes and the genuine support that Gaddafi enjoys amongst his tribes this may spill much blood as Libya rages through a new civil war.
His defiance will bring only further bloodshed and I hope that military commanders can overwhelm his lair to arrest him and end the fighting. At least 230 people are dead and possibly over 500 (depending upon the different chaotic reports coming out of Libya). Firing upon protesters with live bullets and dropping bombs from aircraft is utterly abhorrent and is never acceptable. When the truth finally emerges from the wreckage of Benghazi and other Eastern cities of Libya there will no doubt be many horror stories of the atrocities committed.
As a terror state that claimed to have disavowed terror tactics and support for terrorist groups the indecent haste in which Blair and others raced to embrace Gaddafi did not sit easily for most people. Paying the blood money of a reputed $1.5bn compensation to victims and families of the Lockerbie bombing from 1988, the Berlin disco bombing from 1986 and the bombing of the UTA airliner was some meagre demonstration of goodwill. But for the victims and their families this was too little and too late. Ultimately someone should have taken full responsibility for these crimes and yet Gaddafi was welcomed at the top table of diplomatic circles with his reputation merely enhanced.
|Sister and son of Laurence Penon, a stewardess killed in the UTA bombing,|
When a pariah state comes in from the cold that should be welcomed but those responsible must be tried for their crimes. There was strong evidence that Gaddafi authorised the frequent uses of terror on his own population and against foreign enemies (mainly civilians). Therefore, every reasonable effort (short of the policy of war) should be made to bring dictators to trial. Turning a blind eye to atrocities hardly demonstrates to the wider world that crime doesn’t pay.
One year after invading Iraq and finding no Weapons of Mass Destruction, Blair saw the prospect of trying to heal the self-inflicted wounds upon his own legacy. He brushed aside the spectacle of the British Prime Minister shaking the hand of a tyrant. No doubt, in a slightly different quirk of fate Blair would have shook the hand of Saddam Hussein and called it “extraordinary”.
No, it is always right and proper to have a dialogue and to try every possible diplomatic means to bring about peaceful change so that the democratic will of the people can select their own leader but there should not be a tolerance for state terrorism that allows those dictators to walk away scott free from taking responsibility for their crimes. That doesn’t mean invading countries and imposing democracy but it does mean upholding international law and working through the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to bring justice. Using proportionate force to bring individuals before a court is acceptable if there is no other option.
|UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon|
May the North African and Middle East peaceful revolutions continue and may the dictators and autocratic rulers be swept away to be replaced by democratically elected leaders.
The sooner this Libyan tyrant fails the better.
Middle East unrest