Even with media access to Libya seriously restricted pictures emerging from the country are shocking in the extreme. Even without the pictures the inflammatory language used by Colonel Gaddafi leaves one in no doubt that even though his grip on power – if not his grasp of reality – is weakening, this is one dictator who would rather risk a bloody civil war than leave peacefully. The situation in Libya is as far removed from Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution as it is possible to get.
The United Nations Security Council has rightly called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population. It has however stopped short of imposing no-fly zones, sanctions, embargoes or the freezing of assets. Finding consensus in the United Nations Security Council is always difficult, but doubly so when the situation on the ground is fast-moving.
There are understandable reasons why governments might wish to tread carefully here, but has the international response to the unfolding tragedy in Libya been unduly hesitant and confused?
The British Coalition Government might wish to put as much distance between itself and the liberal internationalism of Blair, but do we have a responsibility to protect those innocents caught up in this conflict?
The HMS Cumberland has been recalled from the scrap yard for one last mission – the evacuation of British nationals – but what of those left behind?
Are the Chicago principles that Blair drew up in the wake of the Kosovo war now nothing more than a historical footnote?
Governments around the world appear to be evading these questions by anticipating that the situation in Libya will resolve itself without further bloodshed. They may be proved right, but it is a high risk strategy and one that leaves wider questions regarding our international responsibilities unanswered.
What do you think? Do you think that we could and should be doing more to resolve the situation in Libya. If so, what would you advise and why?