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25 March 2011

The hypocrisy of the hawks

From Blair to McCain, how can we take these people seriously on Libya and military action?

By Mehdi Hasan

One of the weirdest features of the Libya crisis has been the re-emergence of T Blair. I was both annoyed and amused to see our former premier — described by Saif Gaddafi as a “close personal friend” of the Gaddafi family — penning pieces for the Times and the Sun in recent days, supporting military action against his (former) friends.

Then there’s David Cameron’s hypocrisy — as I note in my feature piece in this week’s magazine, the current premier has enthusiastically sent British jets to bomb a regime to which his own government last year issued £231m worth of arms exports licences (including the supply of small arms munition, tear gas and sniper rifles). Are we supposed just to forget this? Turn a blind eye?

But British hawks aren’t the only hypocrites around. Take the pro-war Republican senator John McCain in the United States. Here’s a report from the Associated Press from August 2009:

A delegation of US senators led by John McCain met with Libya’s leader yesterday to discuss the possible delivery of non-lethal defence equipment. The visit and Washington’s offer of military equipment was another sign of the improving ties between the former long-time adversaries.

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“We discussed the possibility of moving ahead with the provision of non-lethal defence equipment to the government of Libya,” McCain said during a press conference. He gave no details on the kind of military equipment Washington is offering.

So, back then, he was recommending the sale of military equipment to the Gaddafi-run Libya; these days, the same McCain is agitating for a ground war in Libya and the ouster of Gaddafi — the same Gaddafi he praised in 2009.

In the sarcastic words of the HuffPo’s Jason Linkins:

John McCain was in favour of supplying military aid to Gaddafi before he was for supplying military aid to the forces looking to topple Gaddafi.

Is it any wonder, then, why some of us are so suspicious about the motives of the so-called liberal interventionists?