Daily Archives: March 29, 2011

Gideon Rachman

The British military are in action in the skies above Libya. But today has also brought a couple of unwelcome examples of post-imperial overstretch.

First, came the story that the Ministry of Defence are trying to sell the Ark Royal, Britain’s aircraft carrier, using an online auction. Selling an unwanted parrot on E-Bay is one thing – but flogging off old warships on the internet seems a trifle undignified. Also, possibly, unwise – given that the coalition government seems to have developed a taste for conflict. The building of new aircraft carriers has been commissioned. But the next one will not come into service until 2020, which seems rather a long time, given the pace of current events. 

The war in Libya is about a lot more than Muammer Gaddafi. Its outcome will reverberate around the Middle East and will affect international politics for decades. A vital principle is at stake.