Friday, 11 March 2011

Letter to The Times (not published) on Libya and need for West to act not just talk tough

The Editor
The Times

Sir,

Any failure on the part of the West to intervene militarily in the event that Gaddafi launches a much anticipated counter-attack against the rebels would be shameful but would merely be an extension of the international community's default policy of voluble outrage backed by practical inaction and dereliction of duty - Iraq and Afghanistan notwithstanding. Those who would walk on by while the vulnerable are slaughtered by a superior military force should be reminded repeatedly of the consequences of this stance in recent years. The numbers of civilian deaths are as follows: 800,000 in Rwanda; Bosnia 100,000; several hundreds of thousands in Saddam Hussein's Iraq; Sudan 300,000; and several million on DR Congo alone.

The often made claim that Iraq and Afghanistan constrains the West's options should be dismissed as indulgent navel-gazing at a time when principled action is required. Gaddafi is rightly concluding, as did other despots in recent decades, that the West rarely has the stomach to protect the innocent.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger

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