The “Why Should I Tidy My Bedroom” Theory

John Rentoul

untidy 300x226 The Why Should I Tidy My Bedroom TheoryThe House of Commons is debating Libya – after the planes have gone in, for the Henry Porter Tendency who accuse Tony Blair of riding cliché over parliamentary accountability.

It seems as if it is an interesting debate, and as if Ed Miliband got the tone right in supporting liberal interventionism – a welcome recovery from his apparent mockery of David Cameron on 2 March for the apparent failure of his suggestion of a no-fly zone.

I most enjoyed the Prime Minister’s use of Sadie Smith’s argument against those who say “but what about” … Yemen, Burma, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Cote d’Ivoire:

Andrew George (St Ives) (LD): The legal note that accompanies the debate makes it clear that the Security Council resolution recognises that Libya

“constitutes a threat to international peace and security.”

Although I do not recommend that we take such action, from the point of view of consistency, why are we not taking action against Yemen?

The Prime Minister: We are obviously extremely disturbed by what is happening in Yemen, particularly recent events. We urge every country in that region to respond to the aspirations of its people with reform, not repression. We have a specific situation in Libya, whereby there was a dictator whose people were trying to get rid of him, who responded with armed violence in the streets. The UN has reached a conclusion and I think that we should back it. As I said the other day, just because we cannot do the right thing everywhere does not mean we should not do it when we have clear permission for and a national interest in doing so. One commentator put it rather well at the weekend: “Why should I tidy my bedroom when the rest of the world is such a mess?” That is an interesting way of putting it.

Yes, that was Sadie Smith, the incomparable @smithsky1979 on Friday, whom I quoted in my column on Libya yesterday.


Update: Grateful to MuggedByReality, who has posted a YouTube clip of Cameron’s exchange with Andrew George.

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  • jamie

    There is barely any oil in Libya.
    We were getting it from them anyway.

  • jamie

    We haven’t invaded Libya. We have knocked out a few military installations and weapons of war that were being used on civilians.

  • M.A.K.

    But we weren’t guarenteed to have such a accomodating future government in Libya – unless, ofcourse, we make one ourselves. Like I said: Hedging our bets.

  • M.A.K.

    I think he was making a lazy assertion

  • Guest

    I gather the Kuwait and Iranian people would dispute your nonsense

    If you want a defence of every war the Uk has been involved in please indicate the colour of your money to some impecunious hypocrite Do you have a brother?

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