War in the Era of Austerity

(Huffington Post) In the shadow of the budget, Libyan assets abroad and captured oil revenues should be used to fund the no fly zone over the country

As Tomahawk missiles costing four libraries a time crash into Colonel Gaddafi’s military infrastructure we should think about new ways to fund our newly empowered responsibility to protect.

According to YouGov Less than half the British public backs military action in Libya. One of the likely reasons for this is not a doubt about the character of Gaddafi and his murderous intentions, but rather whether or not Britain can afford to be the global moral vanguard at this time of austerity.

This week Sweden froze around 10 billion kronor ($1.6 billion) of assets belonging to Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya. Last month Barack Obama directed the US Treasury to block $30bn (£18.45bn) in assets held by Gaddafi and his officials, the largest action ever undertaken by the US, said Treasury officials. At the same time Britain froze the assets of Gaddafi and his five children on Sunday evening at an emergency meeting of the Privy Council at Windsor castle presided over by the Queen. The chancellor, George Osborne, acted amid reports that the Libyan leader had moved £3bn to Britain last week. In a separate cloak-and-dagger operation, £900m of Libyan currency was impounded in Britain.

Much of the debate to date has focused on the mechanisms rather than the morality of this intervention. David Cameron has repeatedly said that the Libyan people should be allowed to determine their own future. In order for there to be sustainable British public support for the no-fly zone and its £70,000 an hour Typhoon bills to continue, then the allies should work to convert Gaddafi’s hidden fortune into the fuel that powers action against him.


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