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George Islay MacNeill Robertson, Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRSE, PC I’m talking about.
You’ll remember him as defence secretary in the first Blair government and subsequently as Secretary of NATO.
Before that in opposition he was Shadow Scottish secretary. In 1995 giving considerable insight into his political nous he famously said that “Devolution will kill Nationalism stone dead”. This quote was of course designed to assuage fears that devolution would provide a greater platform for the SNP.
These days George whiles away the afternoon in the House of Lords. Yesterday presumably after an agreeable lunch he waded into the Libya debate thus:
“European troops might be needed to finish off the Gaddafi regime. If the attrition goes on and civilians can’t be saved just from the air, are we simply going to stand back if troops on the ground could be decisive?” he asked.
He then added the soldiers would not be American but European. He noted: “Europe had better wake up to the historic challenge it faces.”
Unfortunately it seems that Lord Robertson perhaps fell asleep again because there is no record of him raising any concern whatsoever about the latest ethnic violence in Ivory Coast which has resulted in the deaths of 800 civilians.
The UN have authorised air attacks on Libya, in order they say to protect civilians from Gaddafi. Not to take sides you understand, oh no perish the thought.
By comparison in the Ivory Coast the UN mission (UNOCI) said it was ready to “facilitate his departure if that is his wish”.
They were talking about Laurent Gbagbo who lost the election there in November but has refused to leave power.
Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised and democratically elected leader of the Ivory Coast presumably wonders why that whilst bombs and international condemnation rains down on Gaddafi and Libya, the UN’s response in his country would seem to be to have a plane standing by for Gbagbo (but only if he wants) .
Libya is the largest oil producer in Africa.
The Ivory Coast’s main export is cocoa.
Lord Robertson presumably prefers a dram.