A UK Parliamentary report on Britain’s 2011 military intervention into Libya has heavily criticised the decision taken by 557 MPs to depose leader Muammar Gaddafi. With UN approval, the UK and France led a coalition into Libya from March to October 2011.
The Foreign Affairs Committee report saw “no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya,” and found that “UK strategy was founded on erroneous assumptions and an incomplete understanding of the evidence.”
These damning conclusions come only 2 months after the Chilcot Report revealed much the same about Tony Blair’s decision in 2003 to invade Iraq.
Both of these government reports reveal how readily the UK decided upon a military option without first exploring all political routes. Blair and Cameron (and their cabinets who voted 421-263 and 557-13 in favour of intervention, respectively) are responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, and for contributing to the destabilisation of North Africa and the Middle East. Whilst they are obviously not alone in bearing this responsibility, they have a lot to answer for. Unfortunately, there are unlikely to be any legal repercussions for what were grossly – even criminally – negligent decisions.
It is extremely clear from the language of both reports that UK intelligence was unreliable, incomplete, and in some cases simply fabricated. By anybody’s standards this is a terrible failure. Whilst it is most likely that this was a result of gross incompetence, it is tough not to sympathise with hard line critics who allege that these decisions were intentional and self-serving.
With the consequences of these actions all too apparent, the fact that these interventions occurred, and that those responsible will evade justice, is shameful.
Optimistically it could be said that, at the very least, two reports of such a similar nature and tone in such close proximity to each other should act as a powerful deterrent for any future cabinet considering military interventions. How could anyone justify future armed interventions without taking utmost care to exhaust every conceivable diplomatic option first?
A significant shift in approach to foreign affairs would be a logical subsequent chapter to this summer of revelations. With everything we’ve experienced in the last few years I am unconvinced that logic will dictate the foreign policy of tomorrow.
After all, aren’t we currently bombing Syria?
Read the full reports here: