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What has Libya got to do with us? Is this another Iraq? David Cameron provides the answers

By Jonathan Isaby

David Cameron blue background David Cameron has just spoken to the Scottish Conservative conference in Perth and ditched the text he intended delivering in favour of addressing the situation in Libya.

He covered some of the same ground as in the Commons statement earlier, but he addressed several questions that he suspected people at home would be asking. Here are a couple of those passages.

What has Libya got to do with us?
My straightforward answer is: a great deal. Yes, there is a moral case for action – the duty we have to stop a humanitarian crisis from unfolding. But the case for action is also rooted in our hard-headed national interest. It is in our national interest that countries on Europe’s edge are able to evolve towards more open and democratic government. Democracies are more likely to adhere to the international rule of law and be good, friendly neighbours. They are less likely to fight wars of aggression and commit violence against their own people.

So standing by while the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people for a better future are snuffed out by brute force - that is clearly not in Britain’s interests. And think of the chilling signal it would send to other people across North Africa and the Middle East who are reaching for a better future too. But there are even more hard-headed reasons for the UK to take the action we propose.

If Gaddafi’s attacks on his own people succeed, Libya will become once again a pariah state, festering on Europe’s border, a source of instability, exporting strife beyond her borders. A state from which literally hundreds of thousands of citizens could seek to escape, putting huge pressure on us in Europe. We must also remember that Gaddafi is a dictator who has a track record of violence and support for terrorism against our country. The people of Lockerbie, one hundred miles away from here, know what he is capable of.

Is this going to be another Iraq?
The answer is very clearly no. The UN resolution – which we, with the Lebanese, the US and French helped draft – makes it quite clear there will be no foreign occupation of Libya. The people of Libya don’t want that, and neither do the UK and its allies. It is not going to happen. And it is not just that this time, the action has the full and unambiguous legal authority of the United Nations; nor is it just that this time it is backed by Arab countries, and by a broad international coalition.

There are millions in the Arab world who want to know that the UN, the US, the UK, the international community care about their hardship, their suffering and their oppression. There is – if you like - an Arab world, not just Arab leaders, asking us to act with them to stop the slaughter.  We should answer that call.

> Click here to read the whole speech


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