Do We Know Enough About Gaddafi to go to War?

Avatar:
Ben Cohen
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

From the Independent:

In a momentous vote that could change the course of a conflict that had seemed close to a devastating end, the United Nations last night authorised military action against forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.

Diplomats said preparations for air strikes by coalition forces against multiple targets on the ground and in the air would begin immediately. Early reports had suggested that aerial attacks, led in the first wave by British and French air forces, could begin within hours.

My automatic instinct to the news that Britain along side other Western nations are attacking another Middle Eastern nation is one of serious concern. There is no doubt that Gaddafi is committing terrible crimes against his own people and is causing a huge amount of instability in the region. But there are many dictators around the world who commit far more serious crimes against their own people - yet we hear little about them in the press and do less than nothing about it. To the contrary, we actively support many brutal dictators (think the Saudi government, Saddam during the 80's, Mubarak before he became unpopular etc) as long as they serve our strategic interests.

Whenever the West gets involved in a conflict, the media picks up on recent events and usually paints a very limited picture of the crisis. There is rarely any context involved in the reporting, and we usually only see a 'good guy/bad guy' narrative. Right now, Gaddafi is the new bogeyman, and support for military action is at a high. Yet who in the West really knows anything about the Libyan leader or his history? One would have thought that after Iraq and Afghanistan, there would be a bigger appetite for a real understanding of those our governments insist we must go to war with.

I don't want to get in to a history of Gaddifi or Libya because I honestly don't know enough about him or the country situated inbetween Egypt and Algeria (how many people could actually point to it on a map?). And for those reasons, I cannot support any military action against him, because I don't believe my opinion is fully formed and therefore valid one. Before I commit other people's children to war, I'd like to know exactly what they would be getting into. And with Libya, I don't.