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Cameron in Benghazi

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Rory Stewart may have been the first Tory MP into Libya after Gaddafi’s ousting from Tripoli, but he certainly wasn’t the last. David Cameron and William Hague were hard on his heels. Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy were ‘greeted as heroes’ by the crowds in Benghazi’s Tahrir Square, according to British state television. The prime minister had a tricky line to walk: how to take credit for the regime change and downplay the level of foreign intervention? Bending down to reach the microphones – or to make sure that Sarkozy could hear him – Cameron said in that particular loud, clear tone of voice that English toffs use for addressing foreigners: ‘While we are proud of the role that we played to help, we know this was your revolution’ – before reeling off a list of Libyan cities to show he’d done his homework (for some reason Sirte wasn’t one of them). The business in hand, as the BBC agreed last week, is to get the oil flowing as quickly as possible – for the sake of ‘Libya’s long-term prosperity’, of course.

Comments on “Cameron in Benghazi”

  1. Geoff Roberts says:

    When you peel off the sticky labels of modern jargon you’re right back in the realm of Kipling and flag-wagging imperialism. The labels may change, the agenda doesn’t.

    • Max.Grotius says:

      Really? Mercantilist opportunism, sure: that’s why countries without natural resources and/or with stronger armed forces don’t tend to get security council-authorised military interventions. But imperialism? While the new administration will likely be economically neoliberal or thereabouts, and while you might see that as the same thing, it’s not.

  2. willharwood says:

    Well, it _is_ for the sake of Libya’s long term prosperity, good for us too. Politics doesn’t have to be a zero sum game — and in fact, a not-too-bad definition of Imperialism would be the philosophy that politics _is_ a zero sum game.

    Will

    • Geoff Roberts says:

      “zero sum” makes it sound all very rational, like an insurance company or a bank calculating its profit rates, but doesn’t this ignore the lives lost, the damage done to property and enormous profits made by UK and French companies who palled along with the Libyan dictator until the people began to rebel? Sounds to me as if the British and the French have no interest whatever in ‘zero-sum “games”‘ but want to reap some big rewards rebuilding and prospecting.

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