By Ray Fleming

IT is a pity that the impressive way in which UN resolution 1973 -- authorising “all necessary measures” against Gaddafi's regime -- came about should have been subjected to negative criticism in Britain. A newspaper which should know better yesterday attributed the decisive support of the United States to the fact that “Obama finally saw that America's standing and his own faltering leadership were being rapidly eroded by his vacillation”. A fairer version of what happened is that America had doubts about the effectiveness of the no-fly zone proposed by Britain and France and therefore wanted authority for a more comprehensive approach -- but also wanted to be sure that this Resolution would not be an exclusively Western affair.

Participation by Arab states was seen as essential and guaranteed by the supportive intervention of the Arab League.

Similar accusations of “blocking” by the White House and “pandering to the neo-isolationism in an Iraq-scarred public opinion” are wide of the mark.

President Obama inherited two bad wars and still has one on his hands. He cannot be expected to plunge into another without making very sure of the ground on which he stands and also that he has the United Nations approval which his predecessor thought unnecessary. By contrast Resolution 1973 is an important precedent for the future.