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By Ray Fleming

DAVID Cameron's impressive statement to the House of Commons setting out his government's policies on Libya fully deserved the overwhelming support it got from MPs. It would have been preferable if he had received this endorsement before committing the Armed Services but the timetable at the end of last week made that impossible.

The need to act before Gaddafi's forces occupied Benghazi led to a number of decisions being made without sufficient thought, among them the not unimportant ones of who is actually in charge of the military operations and what is the ultimate objective of the action -- is it the task of ensuring that no Libyan citizen is any longer under threat from his own rulers (and how will that be judged?) or is it directed at the unseating of Gaddafi (and by what means?).

The public disagreement on the latter option between Mr Cameron and the Chief of the Defence Staff , Sir David Richards, has been embarrassing; it must be a long time since a soldier instructed a prime minister on interpreting a UN resolution. It is worth remembering that Resolution 1973 is the successor to the earlier Resolution on Libya about sanctions and that it might in time be necessary to seek a further Resolution when guidance is needed on any unfinished business.