Rebels

When David Cameron dispatched “military advisers” to Libya, he crossed an important line. It is a relatively small military contribution that carries with it a heavy burden of extra responsibility.

The prime minister is taking part-ownership of rebel actions, whether he likes it or not. The barbarity of the Gaddafi regime is well documented. But small wars like that in Libya usually involve both sides committing atrocities. Now that British officers are involved in helping the rebels, Britain will be more answerable for what they do.

William Hague insists the officers won’t be involved in planning or executing operations. But when they are providing advice on “military organisational structures, communications and logistics” they are bound to find out more about rebel military preparations.

What happens if they discover something unsavoury is afoot? This will be a question taxing the minds of lawyers in Whitehall. Should they attempt to stop them? Withdraw support and defence materiel that has been provided? Inform Nato so strikes can be prepared to protect civilians? Read more