With the fall of the Gaddafi regime the optics for Cameron and Sarkozy were always going to be good, at least for a while.
This piece in the Irish Times yesterday from Farah Abushwesha perhaps hints at the darkness that will follow after the sound bites have been digested and the camera crews have packed up and left.
The everyday lives of women in Libya will be the canary down the mine.
As their life choices are incrementally curtailed by the mullahs and their messianic street thugs then we on the outside will have an idea of growing strength and influence of radical Islamism.
I have written before that the entire concept of the “Arab spring” is risible.
What is no laughing matter is an Islamic regime with a Mediterranean coastline.
For now the optics remains beneficial for the political leaders of Britain and France and their focus is entirely short term and electoral for they have no cause only careers. The godly men they have helped think in centuries not news cycles
Toppling the Tripoli regime was an Anglo-French adventure which, in this post Suez epoch, they were permitted by the USA to proceed with.
It was of course almost a century ago when Britain and France, then not needing the USA’s permission, dismembered the corpse of the Ottoman Empire and gave us this daisy chain of failed states around the eastern Mediterranean.
Modern Islamic fundamentalism starts in that period with the Moslem Brotherhood being founded in the Egypt of Farouk’s puppet regime. Although ostensibly committed to change through peaceful means it was this organisation that nurtured Sayyid Qutb.
Hanged in 1966 for a plot against the secular government of Gamal Abdel Nasser he is seen as the providing the ideological framework for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Patience is something that every successful revolutionary must learn.
They have waited a long time for the power to impose their messianic will on civil society.
Egypt in 2011 is much more close to Qutb’s Islamist vision than Nasser’s roadmap to a secular pan-Arabist republic where the Mosque did not intrude upon the governance of the country.
When the Moslem Brotherhood was established it was Britain and France that was their enemy. Post Versailles they got to carve up the Ottoman Empire. After the Great War the USA was still a gangling adolescent just starting to explore the world stage. Britain and France were the major players in the region then.
Now these colonial geriatrics have unwittingly assisted the determined ones to power in Libya.
Gaddafi, like Saddam, was a major obstacle to project caliphate.
Now they’re both toppled.
Brutal dictators of criminal regimes for sure, but they had no truck with the Bin Laden world view.
Indeed post 911 Gaddafi came in from the cold and was doing business with the west on every level.
This makes the partisan response of the NATO powers to the Benghazi uprising, a rebellion in part Islamist inspired, even more baffling.
It also makes nonsense of simplistic leftist “explanations” about the motivations of the UK and French governments in providing the air power for the Libyan rebels.
The “it’s all about oil” stock explanation is easily dismissed as British oil executives already had their feet under the table in Tripoli in 2009.
What’s done is done and the political elites of the west should now be concerned with what type of regime replaces Gaddafi’s idiocracy.
Of course they’re too busy at present enjoying the reflected glory of a clean little Mediterranean adventure where there were very few European boots on the ground.
As regime change goes it is as good as it gets.
This is how Iraq in 2003 was meant to be…
So for now the Libyan caper has went well far too well to be worrying about what to do about the fact that a situation has been created where it is now possible that Iranian ballistic missiles maybe smuggled into Benghazi five years from now.
Whereas Gaddafi wanted such weapons as status symbols and bargaining chips the jihadi want them so that they can use them.
There’s no fool like an old imperial fool or maybe even two of them…