Heffer's piece in the Telegraph today makes a plea for us not to allow our hearts to rule our heads over Libya or anywhere else. Maintaining national competitive advantage is going to be critical over the next few years, and foreign policy decisions must be made on the basis of outcomes that enhance ours. Thus from Libya what we want from the ruling regime is simple;
1. Free access to oil on open markets with contracts honoured
2. A dam of the African drift North into Europe
3. No haven for Jihadists
Gadaffi, mad as a bucket of eels though he is, generally obliged. There is no guarantee that the insurgents will. Therefore our foreign policy should be to make a lot of ambiguous noise and high-flown rhetoric about saving lives, humanitarian objectives and the like but do nothing to displace the devil we know until an alternative that will cede the three points above emerges.
As much as my heart wants to see the dictators fall in Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Kuwait, it must be the job of government, and of the Foreign Secretary, to take a far more pragmatic and self-interested view.