After reading through nearly seven hours of Parliamentary debate yesterday on Operation Odyssey, I now realise that I’m not the only one at a loss to know how this is all going to end and how long it might all take, let alone cost?
The debate shed little light on what might happen next should Gaddafi be defeated, overthrown or accidentally killed by a stray tomahawk missile. Government Ministers side-stepped the question of what success might look like and what the exit strategy is. Time and time again the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary fell back on the line that Britain can’t stand idly by whilst civilians are massacred. Nothing was given away as to where command and control responsibilities for Operation Odyssey might lie once the US takes a back seat, what ever that might mean in practice.
With so many unanswered questions you might have expected MPs to have been less than forthcoming in their support when it came to the vote. With yesterday’s debate coinciding with the ninth anniversary of the start of the second Iraq War, you might have expected a more rigorous cross-examination of government policy.
Backing for what? Well, that remains the unanswered question.
It might have been a different story if the vote had taken place on Friday before military action was taken on the Saturday. But, if reports in today’s Financial Times are to be believed that option was torpedoed by President Sarkozy’s decision to announce strikes just as he was walking out of the summit meeting in Paris.
Whatever you think about the rights and wrongs of UNSCR 1973, subsequent statements and actions hardly inspire confidence that we have a clear and convincing game plan.