Nowadays when we talk about stuff happening 'before the war', we have to quantify which one. There's been that many we're almost spoilt for choice.
I'm hardly Grandma Moses yet in my time there's been the:
- Gulf 1 and 2, Iraq
- Afghanistan and now Libya
But I wonder what the British Government would say though if an outside nation swooped into liberate us? But I digress. The coalition forces, as sanctioned by NATO, are protecting the Libyan people from the force of 'mad' Gaddafi.
No doubt he's had a stranglehold but let us not forget who helped him achieve that; for was it not Britain who supplied him with military arms and weapons? The very same weapons he's now using on his people? Similarly, when Tony Blair trudged into the desert to break bread with the crazy colonel, he did so to secure an oil deal worth millions of pounds.
Fine (for us) some would say; his is the world we live in and business means trading with those who we don't agree with. Fine again.
But if it was OK to take his money a few years ago, at what point did we suddenly realise that "holy shit he's really crazy"?
Now I'm no expert but it doesn't add up.
Of course the big question now (that President Obama is desperate to avoid) is what the fug do we do with Gaddafi if and when we capture his stronghold?
Sure, let's have a no-fly zone and show these ruddy dictators that the West don't take no shit! But what the hell do we do if we're successful in deposing them?
Do we slip a noose round their neck in the dead of night as we did with Saddam?To my mind a shameful episode in recent history, or do we turn a blind eye as disposed leaders make a run for it? And where will they run to? The Hague? Hardly.
You see with Saddam now it might have been more constructive (certainly as an example to other political failures) to strain out his days haunted by the ghosts of his memories. I don't know if hanging him achieved very much except to eliminate him from the planet. The people he tormented are still living with their pain and we in the West have to hope that their lives have gotten better.
Will the lives of Libyans get better if we eliminate Gadaffi? Who knows? Who's to say that there won't be a replacement regime that is worse than his!
No wonder Obama's "dithering" according to reports. Who could blame him for thinking: "OKaaay. Now what?"
Because not only is there the problem of what we do with Gadaffi; after 40 years of dictatorship (and he can't have been that mad to have survived so long), who's primed to take over? Like the proverbial length of string, it's a question we may struggle to answer.