Not Exactly Palmerston

by Andrew Stuttaford

If this report from the Daily Mail is accurate, David Cameron is putting moral preening before his country’s national interest (again):

David Cameron will tell world leaders they must put Colonel Gaddafi on trial…The Prime Minister will reject a plan by Italy and Germany to let the tyrant go into exile and dodge war crimes charges. 

Foreign secretary William Hague also appears to want Gaddafi tried, but adds that the British government is not in control of where Gaddafi might go.

That’s a relief. There’s an old saying (usually attributed to Scipio Africanus) that you should always offer a fleeing enemy an escape route. That’s good counsel, I reckon, from the conqueror of Hannibal, a rather more convincing source of military advice than the prime minister who couldn’t even defend Fortnum & Mason.

It may not be the most satisfying conclusion, but if Gadaffi is willing to flee quickly to the delights of Harare or Minsk, he should be given every incentive to do so.