Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

A New Dawn

Published Tuesday 25 October, 2011

It can only be good news that another murdering, tyrannical dictator meets a grisly end pleading for his own life; and (extremely importantly) at the hands of his own people. Of course there should be proper questions raised and dealt with (not suppressed) about what exactly happened in those frantic, few, highly charged minutes when Gaddafi died but the two big plusses arising out of Thursday's events are that, one, a message goes out to dictators the World over that, from Mussolini to Ceausescu, from Saddam to Gaddafi, they get you in the end and two, an entire people, a whole population thuggishly suppressed for over four decades can now move on. Haltingly, worryingly and no doubt with a few mistakes along the way a new Country can rise again and become an exemplar of democratic freedom in a not-so-free part of the World.

So where does that leave the rest of us?

Russia and (very importantly and significantly) China abstained on that vital UN Resolution that enabled all this to happen and a human catastrophe to be averted. They did not veto it. Perhaps China will see from the way this played out that her increasing global power does call for the exercise of some interventionist responsibility now and again and that it doesn't always lead to "Western Capitalistic Imperialism".

Germany should take a long, hard look at its actions (or, rather, lack of them). Conspicuous by its absence I trust that Merkel will not seek to interfere now and will maintain the absence from the table that her Country's wrong-headed, standoffish behaviour calls for. The World, especially in times such as those pertaining last March at the gates of Benghazi, needs a strong, confident Germany. Perhaps next time Chancellor.

President Obama should take comfort and praise from this conclusion. He steered his country away from direct involvement with all the attendant condemnation that would have brought about, unfair but real and yet stood up for freedom in the Great American Tradition with technological and logistic support of a level that, without it, the result would have been tragically very different.

The Arab League should be very proud. With the forming of some unlikely alliances and sticking at it, the Maghreb and the wider Arabia are safer places this morning.

And France and the UK?  Well done! Properly undertaken, brilliantly pursued and marvellously delivered into the endgame so that Libya was liberated from tyranny by Libyans, with a little help from their friends. Should UK Business benefit. Yes. Why not? Openly, transparently and most certainly in a non-corrupt process. But we should be un-British in our pursuit of contracts and orders; don't hold back; don't diffidently smile in our reserve with justified pride of the part we played as others take commercial advantage. Enjoy the reservoir of goodwill and create a business infrastructure in Libya full of open competition and the pursuit of excellence, whilst creating wealth and jobs for the British people at the same time. There is nothing wrong with that!

But that is for another day. Indeed it is probably a few months yet before the serious business of rebuilding Libya gets truly under way. A proper elected Government has to be created. Vacuums have to be filled. Essentials, from clean water to electricity, from schools to personal security, have to be provided. The UK is good at that stuff too; and there should be no commercial advantage for us in any of that. We should help our fellow man because we can, period.