It is becoming clearer by the minute that having got ourselves into another war we have very little idea of what happens next.
Having watched Peter Taylor’s excellent but very dispiriting documentary about the war on terror last night, a major danger is that many unengaged muslims will view the attacks as yet more evidence of ‘the Great Satan’ at work again. ‘Collateral damage’ will fuel the flames. Al Qaida must be rubbing their hands.
Our allies have very different agendas. Sarkosy is in trouble at home. The far right in France are on the march again and there is nothing like a little war to bolster political ratings. The French were very quick off the mark - before their allies were ready. The bunch of unelected despots aka ‘The Arab league’ are already squirming at the violence. The abstainers at the Security Council are voicing concerns at the violence. Co-ordinating the different forces and expertise without the wheels coming off will be very difficult.
Even here there are disagreements between politicians and the military. Listening to the equivocation about whether Gaddafi is a legitimate target is unedifying.
It is also very costly both in human terms (no such thing as a surgical strike) and in financial terms. Each missile fired costs £1 million. Each fighter plane costs thousands every hour it flies. Landing on foreign bases is very expensive - so much so that military chiefs tentatively asked about recommissioning an aircraft carrier only to recognise that such a move would not be welcomed by number 10. Nothing like a little bit of politics when war strategies are considered.
Several weeks ago we were selling Gaddafi arms. Perhaps it would be better if we curbed arms sales to dictators and despots? Unfortunately the speed with which ‘Call me Dave’ took his arms dealers with him on his recent Egyptian trip shows nothing has changed.