The recent history of western military interventions in the Middle East is hardly encouraging. Yet British PM David Cameron has clearly been itching to begin the bombing in Libya, and US President Obama has also sanctioned armed action - in spite of serious warnings from advisers in and outside the White House.
The military balance of Libya’s domestic conflict is raising debate about external intervention, says Professor Paul Rogers. But the strategy of the Gaddafi regime is also crucial to what happens next. If a long conflict follows, the resulting costs will be measured in human lives; but also in the prospects for deepening the 'Arab spring' that first bloomed in Tunisia and Egypt, the countries on either side of Libya.
When the late Professor Fred Halliday made the case that the London School of Economics should not accept a £1.5 million Qaddafi Foundation grant, his expert and political/moral opinion was met with an air of polite condescension from on high. The 'realists' of course knew best. Except that now they realise they didn't.