Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Britain does not have duty to intervene in unrest

Updated: 2011-03-22 08:25

By Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

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Britain does not have duty to intervene in unrest
A protester holds a banner during a Stop the War coalition demonstration opposite 10 Downing Street in London on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]

London - The majority of British people believe Britain does not have a duty to intervene in Libya, according to a poll unveiled on Monday.

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Fifty-eight percent say Britain is wrong to intervene in the civil war while only 30 percent say it does have the right, the poll conducted by Metro revealed.

Metro is one of the biggest newspapers in the UK. Every weekday morning some 1.3 million free copies are distributed across the country.

The survey polled 1,596 British urbanites and found that more than half (55 percent) said it would not be in Britain's interests to use force against the Libya government compared with 29 percent who say it would.

Oliver Blears, a 21-year-old student from the University of Nottingham, told China Daily that the US, Britain and France's military action against Libya is premature. The Arab League should be the only power to grant the use of military action, not the UN, Blears said.

Instead, blanket economic sanctions and embargos such as the ban on all Libyan oil exports would have been a preferred reaction, Blears added.

However, younger people are more likely to say Britain should take action against Libya, with 37 percent of people aged 18-24 backing intervention. The figure drops to 30 percent of people aged 25-34 and 26 percent of people aged 35-44.

Most of the respondents believe there are circumstances when it is legitimate for British troops to bring down a foreign government. Fifty-six percent think it is legitimate if there are clear human rights abuses, while only 11 percent believe it is never legitimate.

About 53 percent say it should be done when the UN requests military support, and 31 percent agree when allies request support. Just 18 percent say Britain should intervene when its financial interests are threatened.

British Tornado fighters, transporters and spy-planes joined US Stealth Bombers and French Mirage jets into action to stop Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's forces attacking the rebel-held city of Benghazi, and to reinforce a UN no-fly zone over the country.

There are particular concerns on the possible use of British ground troops and the doubts over the end game.

As the BBC reported, Downing Street has so far strenuously sought to dampen down any suggestion that there could be "boots on the grounds", but it has carefully not ruled out the use of special forces.

Gary Li, a former researcher at the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a leading think tank focusing on international security, told China Daily that the devastating air and sea attack is designed to destroy Gadhafi's heavy weapon installations and tilt the balance of military power in favor of the rebels. At the same time, the military action will also aim to destroy the morale and confidence of pro-Gadhafi forces, Gary said.

He predicted that there is little possibility that the coalition forces will deploy ground troops in Libya.

"The US is struggling in two war bogs, Iraq and Afghanistan, so it is not possible that US will go into the third war. It can't get enough political support. The UK and France both do not have enough forces to deploy ground troops in Libya," Gary said.



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