1. Thousands – even tens of thousands – of civilians in the city of Benghazi have been saved from the wrath of Colonel Gaddafi’s mercenaries and fighters. French airpower stopped his offensive ‘in its tracks’, after the Tripoli regime promised to show ‘no mercy’ to Benghazi’s inhabitants.
2. The opposition in Libya – which may carry in its bowels a democratic revolution and a better future for all ordinary Libyans – has been entrenched in the eastern half of the country, and tucked safely under the wings of British, French and American airpower. The Transitional National Council now has the authority, and possibly, the means, to push forward with the liberation of other parts of the country.
4. The principal Western powers – Britain, France and the United States – have proven, contrary to the delusions of the Islamist extremists, that they do care about the plight of Arabs and Muslims (as they showed previously in Kosovo), and will mobilise their resources for humanitarian assistance whenever they can.
5. British and French power has been bolstered; the two countries have been drawn closer together as the dominant European geopolitical powers, in keeping with their strategic agreements signed during November 2010. The British prime minister has passed – with flying colours – his first serious test as a statesman, while the French president has recovered some of his reputation from his mistakes in Georgia in 2008.
6. With an ill-conceived grand strategy and mired in pacifism, Germany has humiliated itself. Libya has shown that Berlin will be sidelined if it challenges London and Paris on issues pertaining to foreign and military policy. A period of reflection seems to be breaking out among the German diplomatic community regarding their country’s position in the European Union and the wider world.
7. The European Union has – unfortunately – been rendered an irrelevance, largely because Germany chose to challenge Britain and France. Equally, the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, made a profound mistake when she confronted so brazenly the British and French over their desire for airstrikes against the Tripoli regime; consequentially, her reputation has sunk to an all-time-low.
8. Europeans – and hopefully, above all, the British – have been shown that they must not rely on the United States for their security, or to sort out problems in their own backyard. President Obama, whether deliberately or through dithering, has made it evidently clear that Europeans must start to look after themselves, even though he authorised the use of significant American firepower during the first phase of the military operation against Colonel Gaddafi.
9. The United Nations Security Council has been reinforced. Unlike with the Iraq imbroglio, the Security Council has given the coalition comprehensive legal legitimacy and the mandate to take whatever action is necessary – short of the occupation of Libya – to protect its people from Colonel Gaddafi’s vengeance.
10. Those in the United Kingdom who were concerned about the implications of the Strategic Defence Review – undertaken last autumn – have grown louder. They have begun to argue that the review cut back on too many British military capabilities, leaving Britain in a vulnerable state and unable to act. Their voices will probably grow louder still in the weeks ahead, forcing the government to re-open the review and take British foreign and security policy more seriously.
• Image credit: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom).