Monday, August 22, 2011

The fall of Gaddafi vindicates Cameron and Hague

Today, two men can feel more than a little satisfied with their policy of liberal interventionism. When David Cameron and William Hague decided unilaterally (almost) that something had to be done about Libya, our traditional allies weren't queuing up to lend their aircraft carriers and fighter jets. Except for President Sarkozy, that is, who made the liberation of Libya a joint Anglo-French pursuit to rid the world of another Middle East dictator. The UN were persuaded to support armed conflict, though resolution 1973 stoped short of advocating regime change.

Today, David Cameron and William Hague are vindicated. It was they who first called for a no-fly zone to be enforced, while President Obama dithered and Germany rebuffed. The delay was unfortunate: it undoubtedly cost lives and made military objectives more difficult to attain. This is not a day for triumphal rejoicing, of course, not least because the dictator has not yet quite gone. But we can now be certain that he is definitely going.

There is a sense in which military force always represents a failure of diplomacy and the repudiation of democratic politics: it is still, as Augustine and Aquinas decreed, the option of last resort. The decision to commit the nation to war must weigh profoundly on the mind and rest heavily on the heart of any prime minister. David Cameron inherited Tony Blair’s military action in Iraq and Afghanistan: the names of the fallen are still recited each week at the Dispatch Box, though they are not attributable to him. But Libya was his own conflict, and he was going to be responsible for any British losses. Mercifully, to this date, there have been none.

But this is just the beginning. Hopefully, with lessons learned in Iraq, there will have been preparations for the post-Gaddafi era, and the peace-keeping will be a relatively bloodless affair. But blood there will be, for you cannot eradicate a century-old civil war with few blue helmets. Keeping the peace will be far more complicated than the media make out: Libya, rather like Iraq and Yugoslavia, is an artificially-constructed state, forged out of distinct and separate tribal identities: east Libya has historically been in conflict with what is now the west. Benghazi in the east was part of a Greek region known a Cyrenaica, and Tripoli in the west was a Punic settlement, both separated by Mediterranean trade agreements, language, culture, ethnic temperament and 600 miles of desert. This is how it remained as empires came and went – Greek, Roman, Ottoman and British. It was not until an invasion by Italy in 1911 that the two entities were forcibly united, with a central governance in Tripoli. Ever since, the Cyrenaicians have considered themselves a people oppressed and a land under occupation: they were Gaddafi’s Basque region; his IRA and his PLO all rolled into one. In Benghazi, they were freedom fighters.

The fall of the strongman in Tripoli is the fulfilment of a century (to the year) of longing for independence. If there is no deal for a post-Gaddafi democratic government, there will be demands for secession, and Libya will revert to its constituent regions. And the civil war will be bloody: we will probably arm the ‘rebels’ in their quest for freedom, and then just let them all get on with slaughtering each other.

But to those who criticise this UK intervention and insist that Gaddafi and Libya are nothing to do with us, His Grace does not agree. As Lord Palmerston said:
"Our duty – our vocation – is not to enslave, but to set free… we stand at the head of moral, social, and political civilisation… when we see people battling against difficulties and struggling against obstacles in the pursuit of their rights, we may be permitted… if occasion require, to lend them a helping hand."
In short, it is our Christian duty to help the oppressed: we have a moral obligation to defend the weak, liberate the captives, and usher in an era of justice, righteousness and peace.

But Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither was our own democracy. These things take centuries, and so we must be patient. As the Lord said: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Especially when defence cuts make it harder each day to eradicate that evil.


Blogger welshguru said...

We didn't think the people Zimbabwe were important enough to liberate, I wonder why? We will be piling up trouble if the Muslim Brotherhood gain power in Libya.

22 August 2011 at 10:12  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

‘But Rome wasn't built in a day. And neither was our own democracy. These things take centuries, and so we must be patient.’

There is no ‘Arab spring’.

And so Time marches on in fulfilment of Psalm 83:

1 O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
2 See how your enemies growl,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
so that Israel’s name is remembered no more.”
5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Byblos, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to reinforce Lot’s descendants.[b]
9 Do to them as you did to Midian,
as you did to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
10 who perished at Endor
and became like dung on the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 who said, “Let us take possession
of the pasturelands of God.”
13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, LORD,
so that they will seek your name.
17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD—
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

22 August 2011 at 10:27  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

"In short, it is our Christian duty to help the oppressed: we have a moral obligation to defend the weak, liberate the captives, and usher in an era of justice, righteousness and peace"

Cranmer, you write so insightfully & eruditely 95% of the time. But there are times when your tribal Conservationism makes you write utter BS. This is one of them.

I would agree if we'd so swift to intervene in Zimbabwe or Somalia or Rwanda or China or Yemen or Saudi Arabia or ... well, you get the picture.

This had absolutely nothing to do with Cameron fulfilling some "Christian duty", but everything to do political opportunism. It stinks to high heaven. Today's news changes nothing.

22 August 2011 at 10:44  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, the British position on Libya over the years has been flexible and/or accomodating as long as the oil flows. One suspects that if Gaddafi is finally toppled it will be more to do with getting the Chinese out of the Libyan oilfields than disgust with the regime. Once the Benghazi revolt got underway, it would have been extremely embarrassing if China had had the time to land troops in Libya in support of Gaddafi.

So, next stop, Damascus? The Turks seem to be champing at the bit.

22 August 2011 at 11:06  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

As ‘these things take centuries’, how can we know that Cameron and Hague have been vindicated?

22 August 2011 at 11:09  
Blogger Gnostic said...

With all due respect, Your Grace, that is wishful thinking. I'm with Johnny R.

22 August 2011 at 11:26  
Blogger Preacher said...

Indeed Dr Cranmer it is no time for rejoicing, it's too early! We must wait & see the results of the power struggles in the Middle East with regard to the Jewish & Christian communities. I fear that it could truly be a case of 'Out of the frying pan, into the fire' for both.

22 August 2011 at 12:15  
Blogger C.Law said...

YG, the sentiment may be admirable but it is unfortunate that you chose a quotaion from Palmeston to express it, given his own contibution to the illegal importation of opium offically grown in British India to China, to the extent of the use of considerable military force.

On the other hand, perhaps your intention was to remind us that the morality of the British Government is based on commercial considerations above all.

I would like to think that the British Government's support of the anti-Ghadaffi forces was finally a payback for the Lockabie victims, WPC Yvonne Fletcher and Ghadaffi's support of the IRA, but I concur with bluedog: it's all about the oil.

22 August 2011 at 12:19  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

From a comment by Michael Rubin in today's Commentary magazine blog section:

Qaddafi’s archives should tell tales as important[as the Iraqi archives]. What was Billy Carter really doing in Tripoli? What did Louis Farrakhan tell Qaddafi behind closed doors? Did Qaddafi truly abandon terrorism after 2003? What was the real role of British diplomats in the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi? Let’s hope Obama’s promise of transparency trumps his desire to lead from behind.

Ghaddafi's fall is to be welcomed. However, Preacher, above, makes a good point. I'd add that in addition to the lofty "democracy building" oompah-pahs to come, some discrete words of warning (backed by believable promises of hot lead to fly) to the victory besotted rabble, along with some operational planning for quick rescue missions of vulnerable minorities are in order.

22 August 2011 at 12:36  
Blogger Paul Twigg said...

Your Grace,

Several others have already said this but why are we not intervening in :

4)Somalia (where Pirates prey on innocent British civilians)
6)Add any country i've missed out here.

It is all well and good to quote Lord Palmerston, but we are not in the Victorian heyday of the British Empire, when the Royal Navy had the largest battleship fleet and it is all well and good to discuss peacekeeping, although our country's government could barely keep control of our own land let alone that of a foreign country.

Finally why is it that Cameron has gone about (as did Blair) cutting the defence forces and at the same time expect them to do numerous military tasks, which are clearly being done a shoe string and so stretch the armed forces to practical breaking point?

22 August 2011 at 13:13  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace

Mr Twigg asks ‘but why are we not intervening in’ other civil conflict zones?

God once gave us the greatest navy that the world had ever seen to open the paths of the seas. An empire that the world had never seen before.

And was it for our glory?

It was for His purposes: to open the world to missionaries from these shores. To right a wrong: slavery.

It was all for His glory.

And now he permits the toppling of dictators who have kept the Moslem radical in check – so that (in my opinion) the nations in Psalm 83 can come against the apple of His eye: Israel.

The nations are but a drop in the bucket. Perhaps Cameron and Sarkozy will soon realise what they have unleashed: like pharaoh was raised for God’s glory.

22 August 2011 at 13:32  
Blogger Oswin said...

I fear, Your Grace, that you are too hopeful, too soon, and on too many fronts.

I doubt Palmerston would have touched this one with a barge-pole.

22 August 2011 at 14:28  
Blogger Jim M. said...

@ D. Singh:

Is it really your contention that the growth of English naval power in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries was a gift from God, to enable us to further His great work?

If it is, then I would further contend that you, Sir, are batshit-crazy!

22 August 2011 at 14:42  
Blogger Oswin said...

Jim M:

From yet another ''batshit crazy'' : I think you'll find it dates back further still.

22 August 2011 at 14:50  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Jim M


The more I get to know God and studied history (the 17th century is my favourite topic); the more I find myself agreeing with Charles Colson (the lawyer who advised President Nixon (Watergate) and became a Christian): that all history really is the outworking of God’s purposes.

‘And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come.’

Luke 17:1

22 August 2011 at 15:14  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Britain promotes it's own interests in the world; always has and always will. The Middle East and North Africa, including the rebirth of Israel, was based on the West's ideas of what suited their own interests.

The various 'States' of the Muslim world were artificial creations based on what Britain, America and France perceived to be in their interests. Lines on a map, regardless of ethnic and tribal loyalties, and backing for dictators who kept regional forces in check. More than a little 'divide and rule' is evident.

God only knows what forces will be unleashed by the so called 'Arab Spring'. Let's not be premature or jubilant in thinking it behoves stability or peace.

22 August 2011 at 16:07  
Blogger Jim M. said...

@ D.Singh & Oswin:

Thank you for your responses, Gentlemen.

One question, though: Do you have any evidence for such a bold assertion, or is it one of those touchy-feely faith things that I somehow never get?

22 August 2011 at 16:07  
Blogger Oswin said...

Jim : will get back to you later on that one, having first mowed the lawn before the next downpour!

22 August 2011 at 16:23  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

D.Singh said ...

" ... all history really is the outworking of God’s purposes."

Of course, but don't go getting carried away with the idea you can fathom it out.

Your reference to Psalm 83 and a coming show down with Israel is based on what? The Psalm is a prayer written at a point in time in Israels history.

22 August 2011 at 16:33  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

Cameron's Lybian adventure is yet another example of the naive tendency of liberals to make war at the first opportunity, and a complete failure to understand the proper purpose of government and foreign policy.

It is remotely possible, I suppose, that some deep, secret British interest about which we cannot yet be told was at the heart of the Lybian business, but somehow I suspect it was really the usual Utopian instinct of socialists (yes, socialists), to imagine they can make everything in the world right by intervening in it.

Nobody has any idea what the outcome of the various Arab risings will be, but it would not be surprising if the net effect were to bring to power another bunch of dictatorial maniacs, even worse than the current gang, and to strengthen the hand of Islamism.

Cameron and Hague continue to blunder about like little children in the world, shamefully sending our troops to die in Afghanistan, and happily killing lots of olive-skinned people in order to prevent Gaddafi from killing them instead.

Lybia is one further demonstration of the fact that politicians are not the solution: they are the problem.

22 August 2011 at 16:58  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Anabaptist hits the nail squarely on the head again.

22 August 2011 at 17:02  
Blogger Berserker said...

Dave interrupting his hols for the Libyan situation?
He's feeling really vindicated now not to mention he was desperate to see Tracey Ermine's 'More Passion'
neon monstrosity. Because it now gives him 'edge'

So... Mr "I've Got Edge Cameron' . Now that you've allowed Number 10 to look like a Thai GO-Go Bar are we going to go right over the edge and give Downing Street the full Brothel Street Experience and perhaps an unmade bed or two for weary TV journos to kip on?

22 August 2011 at 17:09  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Have the Frogs learned nothing from Algeria.

I guess we will be going in to train their police force next.

22 August 2011 at 17:13  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

In these final years of British interventionist foreign policy (the EU will see to that...), your Inspector General applauds the efforts made by our armed services. He also asks why the Prime Minister saw fit to dispose of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. Presuming the latest crisis in Libya did not come as a surprise; how far does he think we are going to get with just one carrier ?

Does he still believe we need these ships to maintain said policy, or are we coming to the end of our influence as per EU wishes ?

22 August 2011 at 18:31  
Blogger Gavin said...

Hmmmm. If only Cameron & Co would employ half the same fervour in fighting for Britain's interests against the EU, then we might have some cause for rejoicing.

22 August 2011 at 18:55  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I can't help but wonder why Cameron misses the irony of his impotence in dealing with the collapse in core British values and the rogue actions of the mob, yet commits billions to supporting 'the rebels' of another 'broken society' in a distant land.

22 August 2011 at 19:52  
Blogger len said...

Dreadnaught, The irony of the situation .... will be totally lost on the Politicians.
What is happening to Britain?

Lance Lambert might give a few insights as to what is happening to Britain.
Six Prophetic Messages Delivered by Lance Lambert. On seven separate occasions a Word from the Lord was released through Lance Lambert to the Body of Christ ...

These give Christians insight as to what is happening amongst the turmoil and upheaval.

22 August 2011 at 21:08  
Blogger asdfsdfadf said...

So when the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Libya next year--and the "rebels" turn the guns we paid for on us--Cameron gets the credit.

Good show.

22 August 2011 at 21:48  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


'Six prophetic messages' brought up Lance Lambert and Israel. What is it about you born agains ? Israel is for the jews. The jews rejected Christ, still do. Why should Christians care about the jews ?

22 August 2011 at 21:53  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Anabaptist and Rebel Saint

Britain cannot stand idly by and witness carnage in another country nor ignore its global interests.

I really believe the 'Arab Spring' was unsuspected and once it kicked off in Tunisia confused Western politicians. It still does and its pretty clear the agenda is broader than supporting 'democracy'.

And confusing and as messy as it all is, surely the grounds for Britain and France's actions were justified?

The ultimate outcome of the unrest in the Middle East is unknown. Our government would be negligent not to seek to influence it in a direction that supports our values of freedom and democracy whilst also protecting our economic interests.

Britain cannot act unilaterally everywhere to protect the innocent and oppressed. This is not a moral flaw. It has to focus on those areas where it is realistic to expect success with international agreement and within the resources available.

22 August 2011 at 22:02  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Office of the Chief Inspector

Christians surely have a special relationship with the Jewish people?

Christ was a Jew and He loves His people despite them having rejected Him. The Jews remain a special people and may play a part in the finale to God's plan. God wants His people to accept Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ and this may be a prelude to His return. The various denominations argue over the precise detail and meaning of all of this but most share the above basics (I think?).

I do not agree with len, the 'prophesies' he has posted, or the wild interpetations of Revelations flying around. However, I wouldn't be dismissive of the Jews.

22 August 2011 at 22:20  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


Your wise words under consideration. However, when the Inspector sees 'the finale to God's plan' he cannot fail to think about Armageddon...

22 August 2011 at 22:28  
Blogger leptronics-global said...

Col Gaddafi was one of the best allies you ever had against the EU and you are all rejoicing, Cameron, Blair, Haig, Obama are all laughing down their shirtsleeves at your niaeve stupidity.

The Euromed Areement

Col Gadaffi on Euromed

When are you going to wake up to who your real enemy is.

22 August 2011 at 22:34  
Blogger Anoneumouse said...

"Rome wasn't built in a day"

That's because I wasn't on that shift

22 August 2011 at 22:43  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

While Cathy Ashton platitudinizes about ‘a new Libya’ with democracy, justice and human rights, Michael Burleigh believes that ‘Libya will be a predominantly Islamic state with sharia law’.

22 August 2011 at 23:00  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Thank you, Mr Johnny Rottenborough. His Grace has posted the Ashton statement.

22 August 2011 at 23:17  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Always a pleasure, Your Grace.

22 August 2011 at 23:21  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Office of Inspector General

We cannot help but think of Mount Megiddo, the word Armadeggon is so deeply ingrained in our culture and has such symbolic meaning.

Christians differ on the significance of its one mention in Revelation 16:16. The highly cryptic language of this Book and this passage has lead some Christian scholars to conclude Armageddon is an idealized location and its message is symbolic. Others read it literally as historical prophecy foretelling a physical battle in Armegeddon leading to the defeat of Israel by the antichrist and the Second Coming of Christ.

22 August 2011 at 23:35  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Johnny Rottenborough said...
"Michael Burleigh believes that ‘Libya will be a predominantly Islamic state with sharia law ... (sic’"

The full sentence:
"Post-Gadaffi, Libya will be a predominantly Islamic state with sharia law, but it does not have to be an Islamist one too."

You left out ten rather important words. Why?

22 August 2011 at 23:50  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Eleven words.

22 August 2011 at 23:51  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Man with No Name (23:50)—The prospect of an Islamic state with Islamic law struck me as bad enough in itself.

23 August 2011 at 00:16  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


Without doubt and even as we are, poles apart in matters of 'faith' that we share an awareness of the malaise which besets Britain today and is a direct result of the vacuum in moral decency at all levels. This I maintain is the cause of the now all too familiar muddled and guilt ridden British identity crisis. A crisis created and driven through by the proponents of politically/academically structured multicultural liberalism, which virtually relegates anyone in possession of a sense of national pride and civic loyalty to the equivalent of a rabid child molesting Nazi.

Britain has gone soft on those elements of society who have been drip feeding generations of Brits with the values of materialism and virtual reality above patriotism instead of facing up to the true reality of coping with living in divided nation. In my view no amount of hand wringing appeals for a 'return' to some mythical age of Christian Utopia will be effective in recreating the post WW2 collective sense of reconstructive 'Britishness'.

I shudder at the thought, but I hold a suspicion that nothing will change without a similarly serious conflict in which the nation is forcefully called to stand together to protect hearth and home. I think its either that or perhaps, only when we, like the other two thirds of humanity on the planet are faced with separating our basic wants from our needs, will reparations to address the effects of this societal corrosion be effected.

What a legacy of disharmony to leave to future generations, we should be deeply ashamed.

23 August 2011 at 04:56  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Jim M

‘One question, though: Do you have any evidence for such a bold assertion, or is it one of those touchy-feely faith things that I somehow never get?’

If you are not Christian – then you may have difficulty accepting the following.

It is the prophecies in the Old Testament that predicted the emergence of the Messiah.

There are still prophecies relating to the future which have not yet been fulfilled.

For example, the nations who form a confederacy in Psalm 83.

23 August 2011 at 12:28  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

Johnny Rottenborough

Just shows how daft you are then. There's a big difference.

23 August 2011 at 16:45  
Blogger D. Singh said...


We heard that there has been an earthquake where, I assume, you live.

Are you all right?

24 August 2011 at 07:55  

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