Gaddafi now controls than he did before we started this odious bombing campaign. He has been able to hold more and better attended rallies of more genuine supporters in recent days than he ever could before we started bombing. Exactly as I predicted, the effect of NATO bombing has been to rally nationalist support around Gaddafi, whom we have stupidly put in a much stronger position than he was when he only faced genuine internal rebellion.
The French and British have now backed down, and both have agreed that Gaddafi will be able to remain in Libya as part of any transition deal. That amounts to an acceptance that he will be the power behind the throne. The problem is, of course, that it is Gaddafi who is growing stronger and NATO which is growing weaker, with political will to keep killing crumbling as surely as NATO economies and currencies.
Hague and Cameron have moved, from abject weakness, to a position of allowing Gaddafi to remain in Libya, which they adamantly rejected three months ago. Then, there was some hope Gaddafi might have accepted it. Now, he has no need to accept a face-saving deal for NATO. He can just sit and watch them dwindle.
It is, moreover, a facesaving proposal that mocks the International Criminal Court, revealing it starkly as a tool to be brought out and used against the enemies of the western alliance, but simply shoved back in its box if they change their minds.
Obama made a shrewd political move to distract from the abject failure of the Afghan occupation to achieve any of its stated goals, by assassinating Osama Bin Laden. Expect now a similar ploy in Libya, with attempts to assassinate Gadaffi by bombing – and possibly by other means – being radically stepped up in an attempt to rescue some “victory” from this humiliation.