Cameron keeps banging drum for war in Libya

The Mole: Tory MPs fear their leader seems intent on making Tony Blair’s Iraq mistake again

Column LAST UPDATED AT 15:49 ON Thu 10 Mar 2011

Tory MPs are alarmed at the behaviour of the Brotherly Leader and Guide, David Cameron. He is still making warlike noises over Colonel Gaddafi - despite Nato and the UN making it clear they don't want to go to war over Libya.

At the start of a summit in Brussels today, Nato general secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen said there was no intention to intervene and certainly not without a UN Security Council resolution. And Russia and China are very clear that they will veto any attempt at the UN by America or Britain to try to bring about regime change by military action in Libya.

And yet Cameron continues to bang the war drum, seemingly driven to action by this week’s TV footage of Libyan rebels being shelled and bombed by Gaddafi's better-equipped forces.

Despite deep misgivings in Washington, Cameron and President Obama discussed intervention in a transatlantic conference call on Monday afternoon.

Cameron then went on the BBC One Show that evening to say: "We have got to prepare for what we might have to do if he (Gaddafi) goes on brutalising his own people. I don't think we can stand aside and let that happen."

On Friday, Cameron will attend an emergency meeting of EU heads of government where he will hope to drum up more support, despite little prospect of getting it.

This flurry of diplomatic action has echoes of Tony Blair's efforts to achieve a 'coalition of the willing' when he and George W Bush secretly decided to remove Saddam Hussein as the leader of Iraq. And we all know what happened when they failed to do so. They went to war without the support of the UN Security Council.

Tory backbenchers fear Cameron has adopted Blair's dangerous doctrine of humanitarian intervention, the right to attack a country without a threat to Britain, if he decides the leader of that country is not progressive enough. This doctrine only seems to apply to countries with large reserves of oil.

MPs' concerns increased after Cameron ducked the killer question at PMQs over whether he will wait for an UN resolution before committing UK forces to enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya.

Cameron side-stepped the question by saying the British government was leading efforts to draft a UN resolution. But he did not give a guarantee that he will only send in the RAF if he gets the UN resolution.

The worrying factor for Labour MPs is that the killer question came not from party leader Ed Miliband but from veteran backbencher David Winnick.

Miliband, advised by former Times hack Tom Baldwin, went for the cheap headline by trying to embarrass Cameron with the hapless performance of Foreign Secretary William Hague over the fiasco of the Libya airlift and the SAS mission to speak to the rebels.

Miliband's failure to put down a marker about the importance of getting UN backing for action raised further questions about whether he is up to the job of Opposition leader. Winnick, being older and wiser, knows better than his party leader.

As MPs from both sides keep warning this government - a no fly zone will mean declaring war on Gaddafi. And the consequences of that could last for years. Is Cameron really prepared to go in without a UN resolution? Miliband should have put the question. And Cameron should have answered it. ·