Sanctions Against Libya Are About The Very Last Thing That Is Needed Now

February 26, 2011

Dan Majestic writes from New York: The international community is once again at it, making useless statements about the crisis in Libya, as if anyone there pays any attention to them. Politicians never learn, do they?

After eight days of turmoil in Libya, with the crisis evolving into a full blown civil war, Western powers are getting their priorities all wrong again, resorting to diplomatic posturing and wasting precious time while more people are dying. Behind the scenes officials tell wide eyed hacks that the reason why nothing has been done up to now was because foreign nationals were still stuck in Libya and it was dangerous to do anything without putting their lives at risk. Putting out endless statements was deemed as the most appropriate course of action.

The UN Security Council has been meeting all day yesterday, drafting a resolution that includes an arms embargo and, wait for it, a travel ban on Gaddafi and his closest allies and a freeze of their personal assets. That includes about 20 people, by the way, so let no one accuse the UN of being petty and vindictive. There’s also a suggestion to refer the matter to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva to investigate cases of human rights abuse and launch a possible legal action against the guilty parties in the International Criminal Court. All very fine, obviously, but hardly groundbreaking or helping to resolve the immediate situation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has been very active in the past couple of days, talking tough and telling everyone how he had dialled Gaddafi’s number several times to inform him about his dismay over the violence in Libya. It’s not clear whether anyone was actually listening on the other end, but in any case the UN’s top dog made his feelings known. With a man like that at the helm everyone can feel confident that the UN knows what it is doing.

Throughout the whole day yesterday everyone who is anyone in the world of politics were expressing their concern over the crisis in Libya. William Hague, British Foreign Secretary said some things, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Gaddafi to step down. Stunning Cathy Ashton of the EU stable made her feelings known and loads of other people made noises of all kinds. Even the usually elusive Nato’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has chaired an emergency meeting on Libya at his headquarters, later informing his followers on Twitter that the situation in Libya is of great concern. No s..t, Anders?

So as not be left behind the US has announced that it is imposing sanctions against Libya and cutting diplomatic ties with it, pledging along with its allies to hold Colonel Gaddafi and his regime responsible for committing atrocities against the Libyan people. There’s a lot of talk about human rights at the moment that so many politicians in the West find so comforting and soothing. The UN Human Rights Council has become the centre of diplomatic activity and on Monday countless numbers of foreign ministers will descend on Geneva, to pose in front of cameras, looking concerned and aware of the gravity of the situation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be there as well, sharing her vast experience in world diplomacy and standing by her man when the going gets tough. Hopefully, she will be able to answer questions about how it could have happened that Libya was chosen by the UN to chair its Human Rights Commission not that long ago without any hesitation.

Meanwhile the two people who really matter, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, are keeping a low profile. Their spokesmen are obviously telling the world that both leaders are watching events in Libya very closely, but everyone knows that they a busy doing other things, with Mr Obama writing his memoirs and Mr Hu plotting to stay in power for another 10 years.

One thing is clear: politicians have no idea what to do about the crisis in Libya and are hoping that things will resolve themselves one way or another so that they can then say: We told you so.

Useless lot. Value for money they ain’t.

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