If anyone is thinking that a no-fly zone is the next best thing to humanitarian aid, to support the Libyan rebels and help bring democracy to the region, then think again.

It is a full-on military option requiring a massive military attack on Libya – extensive bombing which would undoubtedly result in significant casualties and in all probability lead to major escalation.

Last week we heard US Defense Secretary Robert Gates condemn ‘loose talk’ about military options in Libya – a clear reprimand for Britain’s gung-ho political leaders. Yet in spite of that clear message from our normally ‘special’ US friends and embarrassing set-backs to early adventurism on the part of Hague and his fellow arm-chair warriors, it seems that our government will not be deterred. Whilst Gates is reportedly set to hold the US line against a no-fly zone, Britain and France are ratcheting up the pressure for NATO to impose one. As NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stated that NATO will not intervene in Libya unless it has the backing of the UN Security Council, Britain and France have busily drafted a resolution for the Security Council that includes a no-fly zone.

As things stand currently, they are unlikely to get anywhere with it, given the lack of US support and the strong likelihood that Russia or China would veto any military option.

But it makes me wonder what planet our leaders are living on. Leaving aside the myriad problems and failures specifically associated with no-fly zones, haven’t they learned anything about the costs and consequences of military intervention? Hundreds of thousands of people are dead as a result of the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, the killing and destruction continues and the war has extended to Pakistan. There is no political and social stability, no new era of peace, democracy and human rights. In both Iraq and Afghanistan the claim was made that war and occupation were being undertaken not only to ‘protect’ Britain in some way, but to end tyrannical and brutal regimes and improve the lot of the people.

But the reality is that foreign powers went into those countries because it was in their political, strategic and economic interests to do so. Everyone knows that is the case and everyone should know that is the motivation for military intervention in Libya today. There is no sudden love of the British political elite for the freedom of the Arab peoples. There is merely the reworking in modern times of the age-old drive to exploit an oil rich country. So don’t go with the rhetoric for the no-fly zone. Foreign intervention won’t save lives. It will close down a future of freedom and self-determination for the Libyan people. They are fighting to determine their own future and it is they themselves who must and will make it.

Kate Hudson is Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson is the General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and a founder member of Left Unity. She was instrumental in building the Stop the War Coalition and was one of the organisers of the million-strong 2003 demonstration against the invasion of Iraq. She has written widely on a number of subjects and spoken on many platforms. She is active in the People’s Assembly and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.