Britain is, historically at least, a warring nation. It’s empire was built upon war and slavery, as were empires before it. Monarchs and Prime Ministers have for hundreds of years used conflict as a means to increasing their credibility in the eyes of those that they rule and govern.
In recent years we have seen Thatcher and Blair make good political capital from conflict, to say nothing if the money generated by the sales of weapons, often to the very states engaged in conflict against the UK. Riding on the back of America – and sometimes being led by the throat – Blair especially did extraordinarily well from war, even allowing him to take up his present role in the Middle East which has made him extremely wealthy.
David Cameron is already extremely wealthy so it is unlikely that his support for action against Lybia is connected with personal wealth; it is however very much connected with trying to repair a lack of credibility and substantive authority over the electorate who generally regard him as a weak prime minister, according to the polls anyway.
It is not important that prime ministers personally enjoy taking a country to war; that has very little to do with it. What is important is the fact that any Prime Minister, especially a British prime minister knows fully well that the electorate is likely to respond well to a conflict it is seen as being just and fair. It is therefore of critical importance that whatever else may be portrayed about a particular conflict, fairness and the just nature of the country’s involvement in that conflict must be presented above and ahead of anything else.
Tony Blair is still regarded by many in the UK as being the Prime Minister who took Britain into an illegal and unjust war. Furthermore, he is regarded as doing so on the basis of misinformation, notably the fictitious weapons of mass destruction that were key to his justification for going to war against Saddam Hussein.
Many also believe that Blair went along with the warmongering George W. Bush simply in order to gain a place on the world stage and to try and build a reputation as an international statesman. In this last regard at least he seems to have been successful as he is now the Middle Eastern Envoy for the group known as the Quartet.
In the recent Chilcott inquiry into the war in Iraq Blair clearly continued to try and pull the wool over the eyes of the inquiry members. Although he was not entirely successful in achieving his objective he nevertheless managed to ensure it is unlikely that he will ever appear before the international Court charged with any war crimes.
TheOpinionSite.org believes it is fair to state that David Cameron is a world away from Tony Blair when it comes to deciding whether or not to take Britain into a conflict against another state.
Whilst Cameron is content to accept any praise that may be heaped upon him for his actions, it would not be fair to say that he has gone to war for that reason. That is not to say that he is not making use of conflict for his own political gain; all prime ministers do that sooner or later if a suitable opportunity arises.
Cameron at least made sure that the British engagement against Libya was lawful by ensuring that he had the backing of the United Nations Security Council before he took any action. What is more, Cameron has the support of other European allies, notably the French. These facts alone separate what is widely regarded as a just action against Colonel Gaddafi from what many believe to be an unjust and illegal war in Iraq.
Perhaps the most notable difference between Cameron’s approach and that of Tony Blair is the fact that Cameron, far from clinging to the coattails of the United States actually had to lead them into the conflict. Whatever else David Cameron may be accused of, it is unlikely that he will ever be accused of pandering to an American lust for war.
However, before we stop painting Cameron as a saint, it is worth looking at the real reasons as to why this conflict may have come about in the first place.
We have to remember that it was the British who surveyed, drilled and put in place the infrastructure that was necessary for Libya to export its oil. As a result of spending so much British money the British have ever since been able to buy the oil relatively cheaply from Libya as compared to sourcing it from other countries.
Although it is true that Libya only produces about 5% of the worlds oil, Britain imports a good measure of what Libya produces and does so at a knockdown price. If the supply from Libya were to dry up it would mean that Britain would lose that advantage and certainly at the present time, that would be most undesirable as far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned. It can therefore be justifiably argued that Britain is indeed protecting its own interests in Libya whilst at the same time lending support to those that Britain sees as being ruled by a despotic leader.
David Cameron has gone to great pains to avoid calling the present conflict a war. TheOpinionSite.org along with many others can see the political sense in this as it draws a clear distinction between the collective responsibility shouldered by the coalition government and a fait accompli offered by Blair to his cabinet as a result of his presidential style of government. Cameron has been well advised on this point and has been careful to ensure that he has the support of other European member states.
To put it another way, if you want to criticize the action taken by Britain you also have to criticize the action taken by France, Denmark and other European countries.
For the moment at least, David Cameron and his coalition government are quite happy to allow the Americans to command the forces attacking Libya. If there is a sudden catastrophe or disaster, particularly if huge numbers of civilians are injured or killed, Cameron can very quickly distance himself from the commanders in the field. If the British were in command he would no longer be able to do so.
Prime Minister Cameron along with his Foreign Secretary, William Hague have also made it very clear that the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi is not himself a prime target. One cannot help thinking however that Cameron’s American allies may have a different point of view which may very well surface as time goes on.
Should that happen, it is likely that what David Cameron presently calls a conflict may well become a war. It is at that point the camera needs to be very careful indeed if he is not to be sucked in to be playing the sordid role first acted out upon the world stage by Tony Blair. Although Cameron likes to emulate Blair in many respects, he would be foolish indeed if he took that particular aspect of the former prime minister’s character as being a role model to be followed.