In 1986, the US bombed Libya, a state that sponsored terrorism (see http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/us-bombs-libya). The West knew then — had known for some years — that Qaddafi was a mad despot.
In 1986, I was living and working in Saudi Arabia when the US bombed Libya, and my employers shoved an advisory memo under my apartment’s front door (in those days before email, asynchronous communications consisted of people printing/photocopying memos and literally shoving them under doors). It read, in part:
“you are advised to use common sense precautions…maintain a low profile…avoid crowds.”
If the West had used “common sense precautions” we might not find ourselves, 24 years later, in a situation where the same mad despot has made his people the target of a UN-approved “no fly zone” aka excuse for NATO/the US to again bomb Libya. Note, I don’t believe it is the place of any one nation or group of nations to decide the fate or right path of another nation or people. However, when I hear Kevin Rudd speak of humanitarian concern for Libya, and his hope that this “final resolve” (viz military response) “is not too late for the Libyan people” (http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1502772/Rudd-hopes-Libya-no-fly-zone-not-too-late
) I can’t help but wonder if these Western leaders live on the same planet as me.
Of course, they do live here, and they are generally very smart people, much better informed than the rest of us. They know the history well. They know exactly what’s been going on since 1986 and before, and they know exactly why it’s useful to act now — as in, useful for them, not the Libyan people. I do hope they are able to reconcile the benefits they have reaped from Libyan oil against the blood of the Libyan people — and, presumably, the blood of the victims of the terrorism that so concerned them in 1986.