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Thursday, December 01, 2011 

No dog in this fight.

I'm a great admirer of Tim Garton Ash, but this analogy at the end of his otherwise measured article on Libya and intervention simply doesn't work:

Change the metaphor and think of it like this. You see your neighbour's two-year-old daughter being savaged by his rottweiler. What do you do? If you are able to, you jump over the fence and beat the dog off with a stout stick, or shoot it with your gun. You may take a special interest in the little girl's future from then on, but she doesn't become your daughter, you don't "own" her. No more does the west "own" Libya just because it made a limited, justified intervention there.

Except this metaphor doesn't begin to represent the true picture of our intervention. If it did, then we wouldn't just be jumping over the fence to stop the dog, we'd then be demanding the child be put in care. If no action was then taken, we'd move onto killing the parent to protect the child.

The problem I continue to have over Libya is not about the rights and wrongs of the actual initial intervention, even though I still disagree with it, but because those who supported it seem to have no qualms whatsoever about how UNSC resolution 1973, which called for a ceasefire and negotiations as well as the no fly zone was then used to justify in the most extreme circumstances the bombing of Gaddafi's fleeing convoy, resulting ultimately in his execution. They also don't seem concerned that it has directly contributed to the lack of action over Syria, where over 4,000 are now known to have died in the uprising. It's only certain "dogs" that we're prepared to stop, as it has always been.

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