Intervention in Libya - a range of dilemmas

By Harry Hagopian
April 4, 2011

Last week I recorded a radio interview with Vatican Radio's Susy Hodges focusing on issues around foreign military intervention in Libya: is it morally justified and what are its implications for the wider region? What is the end game and how is all this likely to impact on the often embattled Christian minorities in the Middle Eastern region?

Christian opinion has been divided on this issue, with some using the majority Just War tradition arising from Augustinian Christianity to argue the pros and cons of employing armed methods to protect civilians within the context of a larger confrontation, and those in the 'Peace Church' tradition (including my friends at Ekklesia) saying that a range of other interventions are needed and that the use and escalation of outside military action worsens things overall.

The disagreements are over both principle and practicalities. In my article The Libyan conflict: observations and questions, I tried to focus on some key realities and questions as I see them, leaving conclusions to the readers.

"Let us not be justices of the peace, but angels of peace", says St Therese of Lisieux (1873-97) in her Story of Soul.

The other problem for any contemporary commentator on Libya, of course, including those who are from the region or visit it regularly, is that developments change fast and risk making some statements quickly anachronistic.

My next article will focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in view of the controversy (both legal and political) brewing over the Goldstone Report, as well as the anticipated Palestinian moves at the UNGA in September 2011.

I have also been invited to contribute some 'Thoughts of the Day' to Premier Christian Radio for the week after Holy Easter. These will also be shared on Ekklesia and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the latest Libya podcast in the Middle East and North Africa series is available at the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales website: and at Vatican Radio itself:


© Harry Hagopian is an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant. He also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris, and he is a regular Ekklesia contributor ( Formerly, he was Executive Secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Committee and Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Churches. He is consultant to the Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (UK), author of The Armenian Church in the Holy Land, and an International Fellow at Sorbonne III University, Paris. Dr Hagopian’s own website is

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