Posted by: CS | March 28, 2011

Libya: When is regime change not regime change? When it is partition

March 21, 2011: Mr Cameron told MPs that while he still wanted Col. Gaddafi to go, the UN resolution was “limited in scope” and “explicitly does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gaddafi’s removal from power by military means.

The no fly zone plus “all necessary means” to prevent Gaddafi “from killing his own people” will prevent the Libyan Government from suppressing the separatist rebels in Benghazi. The consequence will be the UN-sanctioned partition of the country between the Eastern state of Cerenaica, most likely under a restored Sennusid monarchy, and a Western state of Tripolitania.

If by chance, Gaddafi and all his sons are killed in the application of “all necessary means,” it would likely hasten acceptance of the division of the country. Cerenaica, which has the oil and gas, would be subservient to Western interests, while Tripolitania, without oil and thus impoverished, would be left to its own devices however regressive its government might prove to be.

Gaddafi prospects thus appear grim. However, as Winston Churchill observed:

The statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent, or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations — all take their seats at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.

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