WE do not in any way rule out the use of military assets -- David Cameron on the Libyan crisis. Leaving aside the obscurity of assets in this context, Mr Cameron seems in a very gung-ho mood. He is right to tell his military chiefs to prepare options for operating a no-fly zone over Libya but the phrase quoted seems unnecessarily aggressive in a complex situation where facts are hard to come by. It also gives the impression that Britain itself might choose to take on Muammar Gaddafi whereas any western military intervention must surely be on a joint basis. The danger in Mr Cameron's mood is that he does not recognise that Gaddafi is not the only dictator who kills his own people. If he takes action in Libya will he follow it up in Zimbabwe or Iran? Or is there some unspoken factor in Libya which puts it in a special category?
Last Saturday the United Nations Security Council passed a wide-ranging resolution on non-military moves against Libya that had the unprecedented support of China and Russia. It provides for strengthening action against Gaddafi if necessary and it would therefore be a major step backwards for global peacekeeping if any unilateral military action is taken without reference to the UN for authority. Has Mr Cameron not learnt the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq in taking action in haste and without appropriate authority?