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Libya and the war of the wimps

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Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
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demonstrates the shallowness of Western diplomacy which has succeeded spectacularly in alienating the Arabs, virtually to the last man. It is not a war led by people who want democracy ushered quickly in the Middle East. From the outset it was clear that Britain and France, the two countries who were tugging at America's coattails to help them oust Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, were being led by people who are compensating for their wimpy image.

France's Nicolas Sarkozy clearly needs a small, successful war, just like George H. Bush needed Iraq, to combat his wimp tag. Sarkozy is desperate for a war for two reasons. One, his ex-supermodel wife is known to snub him openly, especially in front of her ex-boyfriends. Two, he faces an election soon. Sarko's image is down in the dumps and he thinks a quick war will divert public attention from his humiliation.

Also, the French military, not known for any heroics in the last 200 years, has belatedly recognised that one doesn't have to take on the Germans or Russians to appear brave. Small countries with smaller militaries offer more tempting targets. Besides, France hasn't won any orders for its new fighter planes, so clips of Mirages and Rafales thundering over Libya might generate some interest, most likely from a future rebel government in the 'liberated' areas.

Britain is in a deeper hole. The once ruler of the waves is now waving the rules against its own people with deep slashes in public amenities that will effectively reduce the country to Second World status. The nation has been mauled by riots, a hung parliament and the recession, with the Wall Street Journal saying that 20 percent of Britons are living in poverty.

It was amusing to hear Prime Minister David Cameron call for a no-fly zone over Libya, a day after the British air force laid off 150 pilots. And remember that the once proud British Navy is down to 19 warships -- that's 281 less than India's planned naval strength.

Britain, of course, is in no position to criticise Gaddafi after palling around with him the past few years. London had even pardoned the Libyan terrorists who bombed an American PanAm jet, killing over 250 people. The lure of petro dollars can make strange bedfellows.

At any rate this is one of the most muddleheaded wars in a long time. Regarding the objectives of the war, Cameron declared that Gaddafi as the head of his armed forces is a legitimate target. "Absolutely not," said his top general.

More double standards. A UK defence spokesman said Gaddafi loyalists burned down a mosque after seizing control in Zawiyah, illustrating the "depths to which his forces are prepared to sink. This is a sign of how far Gaddafi is prepared to go and why coalition operations to protect the civilian population are so necessary."

Oh yes, attacking mosques in Libya is a despicable act of cruelty but when Western forces do it in Iraq - as they did in 2004 in Kufra, murdering dozens of people - it is an operational necessity.

And interestingly, last year there was a huge scandal over the British Army using structures on a firing range that strongly resembled mosques. A UK defence spokesman said "it was vital soldiers trained in an environment which replicated where they were deployed."

If soldiers are trained to shoot at mosques in practise, does it take rocket science to understand what they will do in war?

It would be duh if it weren't so tragic.

Then we have Barack Obama. While the European people, unlike their leaders, want nothing to do with the war in Libya, the majority of Americans say they want Gaddafi taken out. This is the clash of civilisations at work here. For, why else would the American people clamor for a third front when their country is staring at economic disaster and the US military is bleeding in Iraq and Afghanistan?

So at a time when 100 million Americans are under the poverty line, Obama is forced to jump into a war because the Republicans and sundry supremacists in the West are calling him a wimp.

And finally we have the wimps in the United Nations - Russia and India, who, for a warmer American embrace, have allowed yet another independent country to be bombed into the stone age.

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Rakesh Krishnan Simha is a New Zealand-based writer.
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