Comments Off on Libya: Nato must learn from its success

Libya: Nato must learn from its success

Telegraph View: The campaign in Libya demonstrates that Nato cannot afford to reduce its military capability any further.

Whatever happens now in Libya, Colonel Gaddafi’s power is broken. He can no longer murder, imprison, torture and terrorise the Libyan people, who are finally safe from the arbitrary and sometimes insane brutality that made his rule closer to that of the Roman emperor Caligula than any of the religious or revolutionary leaders that he so frequently claimed had inspired him.

Our Government can be proud of its role in helping to topple so vicious a tyrant – an outcome that was far from secure when the Prime Minister and Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, made the bold decision to take military action to prevent Gaddafi from massacring the inhabitants of Benghazi, which had risen up in opposition to his rule.

Now, the rebellion that started there has succeeded in taking control of almost all of the country. As the rebel fighters frequently insist, they could not have succeeded in ridding themselves of Gaddafi without the help of more than 7,000 strike sorties by Nato aircraft.

It is a vindication not just of the decision to intervene, but of the capability and skill of Britain’s air force, and those of its allies. No one can know exactly what sort of government the rebels will eventually establish, but it is certainly a good bet that it will not approach the hideousness of Gaddafi’s rule.

The leaders of the National Transitional Council have promised to eschew any temptation to take revenge on Gaddafi’s cronies, and say they will hold free and fair elections as soon as is practicable. They also insist that they can and will prevent Libya from replacing the horrors of Gaddafi’s rule with the horrors of civil war.

The greatest immediate problem is restoring the nation’s infrastructure – electricity, water, policing – to working order. As we saw in Iraq, and most particularly in Basra, the absence of such basic facilities can rapidly turn a population against its new masters.

None of Nato’s members have any wish to put soldiers into Libya, and it would certainly be wrong to do so, not least because it would violate the UN mandate that assured the legality of the campaign. The only people who can restore peace to Libya are the Libyans – but they will need outside assistance, in the form of finance, training and expertise, in order to bring the stability that the population craves.

Nato’s campaign has achieved what it aimed to, and at a relatively low cost: no Western troops were killed, and the number of Libyans who died as a result of the bombing remained small, due to the care with which the targets were selected and the accuracy with which they were attacked. Yet that success should not lead us to ignore several obvious, and painful, lessons. The operation did impose significant strains on the British military, whose extent will need to be examined to ensure that lessons are learned about how resources can best be allocated.

There was also a marked and worrying reluctance among Nato countries to participate in the campaign: while it was endorsed by all of the alliance’s members, less than half participated, and less than one third were involved in carrying out airstrikes. The result, as the US defence secretary noted, was that Nato rapidly came to rely on America for munitions.

There is a temptation, especially at a time when all governments face acute financial problems, to cut military budgets, because it seems much less painful than making cuts elsewhere. We hope that the success of the Libyan operation will persuade all of Nato’s members that they cannot afford to reduce their military capabilities any further.

Filed in: World News

Share This Post

Recent Posts

© 7339 Daily-Tips.Net. All rights reserved.