UK freezes Gadaffi’s assets – but why now?

That\’s the question Ritchie asks so let\’s try and provide an answer, shall we?

Britain said it was revoking the diplomatic immunity of the Libyan leader and his family, including his high-profile son Saif al-Islam, who has had close links with the UK. David Cameron echoed Barack Obama in calling on him to go. The PM said: \”All of this sends a clear message to this regime: it is time for Colonel Gaddafi to go and to go now. There is no future for Libya that includes him.\”

OK, that\’s a start. Prior to this move as the de facto and de jure ruler of a sovereign state, Gaddafi enjoyed immunity.

This is a pretty basic piece of international diplomacy. We really may not like having to o this but it is necessary to deal with the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be. Some arrogant little creep comes to power somewhere: Gaddafi, Mao, Stalin, Herr Hitler and all the rest. And if we\’re not actually at war with them, we\’ve got to accept that, however they gained their state power, they do in fact have that state power.

The gravity of the crisis was reflected in Saturday night\’s vote by the UN security council to impose travel and asset sanctions on Gaddafi and his entourage and a belated arms embargo on Libya – even if these moves are now largely symbolic. Gaddafi also became the first sitting head of state to be referred to the international criminal court by unanimous vote of the often-divided UN security council. British officials also said his exclusion from the UK was an unprecedented act.

See, we\’ve got international laws about these things.

Britain froze the assets of Muammar Gaddafi and his five children on Sunday evening at an emergency meeting of the Privy Council at Windsor castle presided over by the Queen.


We may know that someone\’s an arrogant thieving thug, that he routinely steals power from the people along with their cash. But as sovereign, we have to deal with them. So we do. We may all wish to see Gaddafi hanging from his heels from the light fittings of downtown Tripoli but while he\’s a seat at the UN, is acknoweldged by the \”international community\” as The Bloke, we cannot do anything else.

Once he\’s not so regarded, of course we can.

So that\’s the \”why now?\” answer. He had both diplomatic and sovereign immunity. Now he doesn\’t.

And shouldn’t we now freeze the assets of the leaders of a great many more states?

And if not, why not?

Because Richard, in order to do so, you\’ve got to get the UN, that guardian of international law (I know, snigger) to vote that you can.

10 thoughts on “UK freezes Gadaffi’s assets – but why now?”

  1. “And shouldn’t we now freeze the assets of the leaders of a great many more states? And if not, why not?”

    Fine – let’s draw up a list of despicable leaders and recent ex-leaders of other states. I’ll start us off: Gordon Brown.

  2. I don’t hear the Murph calling for the freezing of Gaddafi’s Southern African comrade, Robert Mugabe. Then again, Bob just starves his people and sends his thugs out to give them a sound thrashing around election time.

  3. does the Murphmeister really wants us to declare war on every nation with a nasty ruler? Would that include, for instance, China?

  4. Slightly OT, I see our inspiring author’s alma mater is deciding whether to “withdraw” Gadaffi Jnr’s PhD. Now, one could also ask whether they will be returning the 1.5 million quid he donated as well, but let’s refrain from such pettiness.

    Instead let’s analyse this idea.

    Unlike many rich donors to universities, the young Gadaffi actually conducted some research and wrote a thesis (or at least he said he did), thus he has a proper doctorate.

    Now I’m not a fundi on university laws etc but once a proper doctorate has been awarded, can it actually be taken back? I would have thought the only grounds on which such an action would be possible would be if the research that led to the awarding of the degree was found to be fraudulent or the work of another.

    The LSE SU claims this to be the case. But if that is the case might it not be pertinent to ask why the LSE didn’t pick this up earlier. Or do they simply hand out PhD’s to any muppet presenting a thesis that weighs enough, so long as it’s accompanied by a large cheque?

  5. Problem is that only a few years ago we welcomed Gadaffy back into the fold in exchange for him giving up his nuclear programme. If it is proven that such promises by the western nations are valueless, as, for example the occupation agreement in Kosovo, undertaking to disarm the KLA, appoint a no0n-racist regime & recognise Yugoslav sovereignty, or as the Helsinki ttreaty where we guaranteed to “take no action against the territorial integrity or unity” of other European nations, so obviously were then what circumstances are there where any foreign leader can rely on our word. If there remain none then what incentive can we ever give to the North Koreans, or future examples, ever to negotiate.

    It is also unfair since Gadaffy isn’t 100th as criminal as murdering, organlegging, child raping, genocidal pro-Nazi war criminals like Blair & Ashdown.

  6. Wow, that Neil Craig is a cherishable addition to the ranks of fuckwitted fuckwits, isn’t he?

    Tim, I think your reference to ‘Her Hitler’ should read ‘Him Hitler.’

  7. Ironic that Mr Murphy should be advocating the expropriation of assets from tyrannical despots. If comment moderation policies are indications of a tendencies to despotism, Mr Murphy would be broke if he applied his own standards to himself.

  8. What a genuinely hilarious idea, Neil, that the North Koreans could be negotiated with if only they trusted our word.

    The deal you make with the likes of Gadaffi is, so long as you’re in power, and so long as there’s nothing really practical we can do to get you out of power, we’ll hold our nose and do business with you. The moment that no longer holds…

    Thugs and gangsters don’t even mind that bargain – it’s how they deal with the world.

  9. Neil Craig, I suspect that Gaddafi’s nuclear programme was much like Saddam’s WMD. Remember, it was only the Sainted Tone of Blair that believed these things existed.

  10. Henry – Gadaffy’s desire for nukes and ability to spend folding money to get them was never in question and he almost certainly helped pay for Pakistan’s Bomb. It was certainly a long bet but one with an extremely nasty payout.

    Ambrose – negotiating with people you agree with is easy but sometimes you have to do so with those you don’t. The question is not our ability to trust NK or Pakistan or Argentina or Russia or Australia but their ability to trust with us. Some measure of trust is the currency in state relations – most states have less of this currency than they want, some are bankrupt.

    Chris – your charm is exceeded only by your wit.

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