The fate of the rebel uprising in Libya has suffered a grave setback this week thanks in part to Western powers still coming to terms with what the historic revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
With his premiership hanging by a thread following the capture of Libya's second city, Benghazi; Gaddafi laid out his chips on the table, promising air strikes and the slaughter of his own people, then waited with baited breath for a response from the west; If it were a poker game, his bluff would have cleaned up the table.
Western powers have been at odds to find a coherent policy towards what is happening within the region and with the financial crisis and daily reminders of their last attempts of an ethical foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, seem anxious to avoid further conflict in the region. While Obama dithered, and Cameron came to the dance arm in arm with British arm dealers, pro- Gadaffi followers have been taking back their power by any means necessary, and with the launch of air strikes the balance of power seems likely to shift back to the Colonels side.
Any hopes of an international intervention seems to be fading as Britain and France have both stated that they will not become involved without a UN resolution which will likely be blocked as Russia has promised to veto any attempts of instigating a no fly zone in the region. With his hands now firmly untied, Gadaffi has promised to shed the blood of the rebels and with his military might most fear a mass genocide will be inflicted on his own people.
The very idea of ethical intervention arrived in the the U.K, in the 1990's, when the late Robin Cook, who at the time was Foreign Secretary; made the case for his government to have a 'moral responsibility' which would; “make Britain once again a force for good in the world.” This seemed to follow the recognition that our utmost duty was to protect not only those of our own country, but of all mankind. However with difficult times being endured by most in Britain there seems to be little support for this theory in regards to Libya. With a recent Sun newspaper poll suggesting that only 1 in 5 British people supported the deployment of British troops to protect Libyan citizens.
Britain, and indeed many other Western powers are not unknown to turn a blind eye to genocides abroad. In fact, up until the late 1980's Britain and Germany, were still supplying the Khmer Rouge with weapons and supplies in their fight with Communist Vietnam, who had freed Cambodia from Pol Pot and his party. This funding occurred long after the revelations of the Khmer Rouge having massacred over 3 million of their own people between 1975 and 1979.
This is a pivotal time not only within the Libya, but for all countries in that region. In the last three months we have seen historic and inspirational movements which, through non violent measures has toppled dictators and oppression. What occurs in Libya will affect any further attempts within the region as citizens fight for the basic human rights we take for granted every day. This is a time when the West should be standing shoulder to shoulder with the rebels, and once again reclaim the moral authority as a standard bearer in the belief of democracy, human rights and freedom for all. If they do not; then the blood of the Libyan people will not only be on Gadaffis' hands; but also on our own.