March 18, 2011

TSG IntelBrief: Libya: The Journey of a Thousand Miles



Yesterday the UN Security Council voted to accept Resolution 1973 / 2011, which authorises the use of military force in Libya to protect the civilian population, less ground operations. 

Al Jazeera carried the voting procedure live on the left-hand side of the screen, whilst on the right-hand side of the screen a huge crowd, clearly thousands strong, if not larger, stood in the early spring night of Benghazi, watching the proceedings being beamed onto the side of a building.

When the results of the vote were announced, 10 in favour, none against, and five abstentions, there was a time lag of perhaps two seconds – and then the crowd exploded into a frenzy of delight.

It is very difficult for those of us in comfortable houses, in rich economies, with relatively stable governments, to understand what impact UNSCR 1973/2011 represents to the lives of millions of Libyans who have lived for years under a repressive regime.

There will be profound social, economic, political, military and extremist implications following the decision of the UN.

And in years to come the actions of the international community will form the cornerstone - no doubt - of numerous university courses on the utility of force; as well as be a critical focus of study for military academies worldwide.

At the moment, the enduring problem is to stop the bloodshed, and then deal with the downstream chaos.

This short paper intends to examine some of the initial issues arising from the decisions, accepting that it is like a Polaroid photograph, capturing the essence of the here and now.  Things will change; they always do.


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