Intervention in Libya

The UN Security Council is discussing a resolution that would allow military intervention in Libya. Previously, I thought a military intervention in Libya was unlikely and undesirable (see Libya in a stalemate?). It was unlikely, because such a measure was likely to be opposed by China and Russia, countries that generally oppose intervention in the domestic affairs of other states. However, China and Russia are likely to abstain than oppose, therefore allowing the resolution to pass. It seemed undesirable, since such a measure could also play into the hands of Colonel Gaddafi, who would paint any such intervention as invasion of outside forces.

Above all, I thought there would be no need for direct outside military intervention. I had hoped in a bout of undue optimism that Colonel Gaddafi’s regime would fall, through a combination of the anti-Gaddafi forces, defections from his camp, desertions from the armed forces, and international pressure. Even if his regime did not collapse immediately, I doubted he would be able to regain the lost grounds quickly. There would have been a civil war, in which the pressure continued to mount on Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, and it would eventually lose. I was wrong.

It now seems that Colonel Gaddafi is trying to emulate Saddam Hussein, i.e. brutally repress the opposition at whatever cost. Clearly, there is an urgency with the situation, and some sort of action is required now. I am extremely reluctant to support military intervention since it ought to be the very last resort, but I do not stand as an absolute opponent on this issue: if the choice is between letting Colonel Gaddafi do what he is threatening to do with the opposition, and stopping him by military means, then I’d prefer the latter.

Any military intervention is fraught with risks, and there needs to be a clear strategy, and a clear set of objectives. I really do hope that Libya will be free of Colonel Gaddafi soon without much more bloodshed. Even at this late hour, I am hoping that once this resolution is passed, there will be a massive defection of the members of the Libyan armed forces to the anti-Gaddafi forces, and that the regime will collapse from the inside.


The resolution 1973/2011 is adopted. Military actions may start to take place ‘within hours’.