The democracies’ handling of dictators has been always erratic. Despite the knowledge of atrocities against their opponents within their countries, the democracies usually tended to try to appease the monsters rather than fighting them. No question that all dictators are monsters, by definition. There is not such a thing as a “soft” dictatorship. In Spain they coined the word “dictablanda” as opposed to “dictadura” playing with the meaning of “dura”, hard, way back in the early 20th Century when an obscure general Berenguer took over the Primo de Rivera dictatorship for a short while. The ailing (alcoholic) and widely criticized Primo lost the king’s confidence and exiled himself to Paris. Catalans knew there was nothing “soft” as the Primo viceroy in Catalonia implanted the “ley de fugas”, a law allowing police and army to shoot to kill anyone fleeing, no questions asked. That was an easy way of getting rid of opponents.
Those years Mussolini and Hitler, Poland’s Józef Piłsudski, reached power they did not release but by force. Even worse Josif Stalin took over what was meant to be the “dictatorship of the proletariat”. Those plus Spain’s Franco and Portugal’s Oliveira Salazar moulded politics in Europe for the first half of the century and were responsible of more than 100 million dead. But as the same Stalin said, when the victims reach millions the count looses its meaning.
In front of those dictators the European (and American) democracies did not react until they were directly attacked.
In “The king’s speech” movie you may hear the common thought those days amongst the British upper crust that the real problem were the Bolsheviks and that Hitler will take care of them. He did indeed got rid of the German Communists by killing them outright… and then he kept on killing everyone else that opposed him along with just a few million of innocent bystanders…
Gaddafi is proving he was a tougher nut to crack (or his children are) and the EU countries keep on procrastinating as they did with the Serbians.
The no-fly zone can only be enforced with the VI Fleet power, even though it would take just 8 hours for the French Air force (the closest) to destroy Gaddafi’s airplanes.
The problem is there is no a political plan for the after-Gaddafi situation, so the EU countries will keep on dragging their feet to see if somebody else (the US) takes the lead.
Will we see the Marine Corps singing again “From the halls of Montezuma/ to the shores of Tripoli…” on the sands of Tripoli?
By now the Pentagon must have more than one HK-11 satellite in orbit over Libya and a couple of geostationary birds and must know even where Gaddafi goes to pee.
But there are still too much away from taking a definite decision to step in Libya.
Meanwhile the dreadful thought that that murderous clown of Gaddafi might get away with his own people repression despite international condemns, overflies the situation.