Whatever happens in Libya in the coming weeks, the dichotomy in western policy between armed intervention in one situation and lack of an adequate response elsewhere will continue, casting a shadow over humanitarian claims and undermining other proclaimed purposes, says Professor Paul Rogers. The damage and the lost opportunities produced will be measured for years to come. The west's military-political strategy prolongs the war in Libya and gives space to authoritarian regimes elsewhere in the region.
Civilian protection requires simple, straightforward dialogue and negotiation with the people who can control whether other people are safe or not. It also works, say Tim Wallis of Nonviolent Peaceforce. As soon as we bring guns, tanks and air support into the picture, we are talking about something which more often than not does not work, and often makes things worse.
As we approach the Sacred Triduum in Holy Week, when Christians reflect on the profound sacrifice Christ made for humankind, and at a time when the Jewish community has started the feast of Passover, a focus on the Middle East and North Africa region seems religiously natural - as well as politically topical.