Any moves towards a diplomatic solution in Libya would be welcome, says Chris Nineham, but one thing is for sure, for them to have any chance of success the NATO bombardment will have to end.
The Western powers’ Libya strategy appears to be in complete confusion. Senior French and Italian officials have recently been arguing very publicly that the military option is not working and that only a diplomatic solution has any hope of success. But on Tuesday, NATO’s spokesperson Carmen Romero said that airstrikes will continue until Gadaffi gives up.
Britain’s position especially appears to being made up from one day to the next. Having unambiguously committed to (illegal) regime change and the trial of Gadaffi, Foreign Secretary Hague now says Gadaffi might be able to escape trial and even remain in Libya.
This is a major climb down. Whatever his formal position, if Gadaffi remains in Libya he will undoubtedly continue to have power and influence.
More startlingly still, having previously declined to recognise the Benghazi regime, today William Hague announced Britain is expelling all pro-Gadaffi diplomats and that the Foreign office now regards the Transitional National Council as the ‘sole government authority’ in Libya.
France is not far behind in its mixed signalling. Despite talk of the need for diplomacy France recently admitted to sending a large cache of arms to the Benghazi rebels, in clear breach of the UN resolutions on Libya.
This confusion betrays NATO’s desperation. Admiral Mike Mullen, America’s highest-ranking military officer, has admitted Libya is "in a stalemate". Aside from inflicting immense destruction on Libya, the NATO operation has achieved none of the West’s objectives. .
According to the Independent newspaper, Gadaffi controls 20% more ground in Libya than he did on the day four months ago that the NATO bombing started, Despite more than 6,000 bombing sorties since the war began,. Recent pro-Gadaffi rallies in Tripoli also suggest his position is if anything strengthening.
The colonial mentality that the West has the right to decide who rules in distant countries is stubborn. Clearly the NATO powers have learnt nothing from the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the war in Libya is turning in to a third military disaster in ten years.
Any moves towards a diplomatic solution in Libya would be welcome, but one thing is for sure, for them to have any chance of success the NATO bombardment will have to end.
Originally published by Stop the War Coalition.
Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.
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