The Government has signalled that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya - to protect the civilian population from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's brutal crackdown - could go ahead without the backing of the United Nations. - PAAltogether now with Comrade Blade as we say for the umpteenth time - Some. Motherfuckers. Are Always. Trying. To Ice-Skate. Uphill.
I'm not overly alarmed about the prospect of our armed forces laying some kind of epic whizzbang smackdown on Gaddafi's goons. Since at least the Falklands, successive British governments have loved nothing so much as fondling their powerful weapons systems, with the frequency and urgency of Fifty Cent on a vodka Red Bull and Viagra binge.
This relentless stroking and rearranging and tucking and jerking appears to be both reassuring and endlessly encouraging. It's done with the all the conscious thought that the ordinary human being devotes to breathing and blinking. It seems to me that, in practical terms, Britain's lacks the capability to seriously impede Gaddafi with our much-reduced and overstretched military, and others agree...
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed David Cameron's call for plans to be drawn up for a no-fly zone, saying that the idea was "superfluous".
Make of that what you will, Davey, but I a-reckon that there Russkie's sayin' how we ain't got no damn balls.
Undaunted, our Prime Minister - who, let's recall, strolls past Churchill's imposing jowls every day en route to his dippy eggs and soldiers - clearly thinks that "exerting pressure" might be a useful move.
After Mr Cameron's dramatic announcement on Monday in the Commons that he had ordered military commanders to begin planning for no-fly zone, officials sought to play down suggestions that action was imminent.Woof woof, growl bark woof.
Nonetheless, let's not forget that just because we're incapable of interposing ourselves in Libya's strife, that doesn't mean that our nutty cousins couldn't do so on our behalf. Our psycho Auntie Hillary reminds us that "no option (is) off the table", which is the standard US response to the question Are you about to do something utterly deranged and terrifyingly insane in the Middle East?
I have to say that, if I was Barrack Obama, I wouldn't leave all those options sitting around on some table for just anyone to pick up and start waving around after a hard night on the Mai Tais. I'd lock those options away in a nice, sturdy cabinet so that my underlings couldn't go optioning-up on foreign dictators when they got a bit pissed and ornery.
Anyway, we'll find out soon enough whether we plan on barking all day or biting. Readers will know how wise I think the second option is, for a variety of reasons that I won't reiterate here, so let's just say this. While the humanitarian aims of any operations in Libya may seem wonderfully obvious and noble to us, they're unlikely to be seen that way across the rest of the planet. The locals' attitude, after all, may not be quite so charitable and forgiving as ours.
Let's do the maths once more here, for clarity. In the past decade, Britain and/or the Americans have either bombed, invaded and/or occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; our wacky allies have bombed Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and the United States also maintains military bases in Bahrain, Israel, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
You can assess that using whatever justifications and euphemisms you like, but any major campaign against Libya is going to be a hard, hard sell to the UN as disinterested humanitariansm, even if it's exactly that. Assuming we're bothering with the formalities this time, that is.
Still, the British government, eh? All the memory capacity of a geriatric goldfish in a body filled with adventuresome spirit and a few hundred bloody bulletholes. What a plucky bunch we are.