-Colonel Muammar Gaddafi 03/03/2011
The Libyan leader then retorted with a fiery speech, he vowed to wage a bloody war if foreign powers dared to intervene, saying it would only plunge Libya into "another Vietnam". "We will enter a bloody war and thousands and thousands of Libyans will die if the United States enters or Nato enters," he told supporters in a two-and-a-half-hour televised speech in Tripoli.
Six months then elapsed of enforcing a no-fly zone, evacuating refuges and launching air attacks on over 20 "integrated air defence systems" using more than 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles during operations Odyssey Dawn and Ellamy. But a long protracted Vietnam-style quagmire it was not to be as by the 22 August, rebel fighters had entered Tripoli and occupied Green Square, which they renamed Martyrs' Square in honour of those killed since 17 February 2011.On 16 September, the U.N. General Assembly approved a request from the National Transitional Council to accredit envoys of the country’s interim controlling body as Tripoli’s sole representatives at the UN, effectively recognising the National Transitional Council as the legitimate holder of that country’s UN seat and the "liberation" of Libya was celebrated on 23 October 2011.
Britain's announcement that it was sending a "military liaison advisory team" of experienced officers to Benghazi to assist the rebels' national transitional council carried with it far too many frightening historic parallels. Foreign secretary William Hague was adamant the British army was not taking charge of the campaign against Muammar Gaddafi. The "advisers" would not be arming, training or directing the rebel forces, he said.
So I suppose the question I am asking both myself and you, dear readers, is that could ground forces have followed in the advisors footsteps?
It's worth recalling that UN security council resolution 1973, did not authorise member states to support the rebels, to defend armed groups, or to oust Gaddafi. Nor did it authorise an Iraq-style ground invasion or military occupation, in any shape or form, size or scale.
But escalation was in the air – and on the ground. The EU is discussed what it said was an approved "concept of operations" for sending European troops to Libya to protect refugees and humanitarian relief efforts. Nato strike aircraft, unsuited to killing alleyway snipers, are instead widened their targets to include Gaddafi's home town of Sirte.
By encouraging and assisting rebel resistance, as George Bush Snr did with the Shias of southern Iraq in 1991, Britain and France could have seriously risked worsening the plight of the Libyan civilians they were primarily pledged to defend. The UN and concerned aid agencies all agreed that the humanitarian situation was going to grow steadily worse, the longer the conflict continued.
Was it then simply pure luck that the conflict did not drag on as a stalemate any longer than it did which prevented a creep into a disastrous protracted conflict?
Overall, unlike Vietnam, it would appear on the surface that military intervention in Libya produced different results because it had multilateral support and a seemingly humanitarian mission.