Monday, 21 March 2011
The Third World War
Now, for only the third time during its 65-year history, the UN Security Council, the body notionally responsible for world security, has authorised direct military attack in support of one of its resolutions. However, this is quite different to the previous UN-authorised conflicts.
In Korea in 1950, the resolution authorising the deployment of forces under the UN banner was only possible because of the absence of the Soviet delegation, and was, at least initially, designed for the specific purpose of evicting the North Korean invaders from the south. In the case of Kuwait in 1990-1, the resolution was also clearly limited to actions necessary for liberating Kuwait.
In the present resolution, it is impossible to see any such clear limitations, or purpose to the resolution. The various parts of the Anglo-Franco-American alliance do not even seem to be clear as to who will be leading the coalition, what its objectives are, or even what the resolution authorising their action actually authorises. The Americans are talking only of a no-fly zone, whilst the first act of the French was to carry out strikes against tank columns. Whilst the only thing that is explicitly barred by the resolution is an occupation of Libya, even this does not seem to explicitly prevent an invasion of the country.
Moreover, once the present coalition has done what it can to protect the rebel-held cities of Benghazi, Misrata, etc., what happens then? Most obviously, now that we are in we should do what we can to help the rebels overthrow Gaddafi and resolve the situation - yet no-one has come forth to say this or even imply it. Regime change is the logical conclusion of the previous resolution referring the Gaddafi government to the International Criminal Court, yet this is not recognised.
This is, of course, not only the third UN-authorised military action, but also the third military action by the Western Powers in a majority Muslim country in the last ten years. If this conflict is resolved quickly, if Gaddafi is overthrown quickly and the Libyans left to solve their own problems, then we may at least be assured that another quagmire like Afghanistan will have been avoided. Unfortunately this is far from certain.
[Picture: A Tomahawk missile is launched from the USS Stetham, 2004. Via Wikicommons]
Posted by Gilman Grundy at 08:10