[This is the heading over a letter from Duncan McFarlane published in The Herald on 15 March. It reads as follows:]
Too many people, including myself, have been looking at what’s happening in Libya with wariness after war propaganda from Kosovo in 1999 and Iraq from 2002.
There is propaganda today: Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi’s trial was a sham and no-one knows who carried out the Lockerbie bombing; and Muammar Gaddafi has never used chemical weapons against Libyan rebels.
What’s happening in Libya is like Iraq in 1991, when there were rebellions with majority support against the dictatorship, but the dictatorship crushed them because the US and its allies allowed them to, on the calculation that a successful Shia rebellion would increase Iranian influence in Iraq. Similarly the Barack Obama administration is wary of supporting rebels, some of whom, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), have been allies of Al Qaeda.
The rebels are mostly not LIFG. If we don’t back them the likelihood is they will be massacred just like Shia rebels and civilians in the south of Iraq were in 1991. It’s right to be uncertain of reports based on past propaganda; and right to remember the ulterior motives of most governments, but we know from Gaddafi’s past practice that many who criticised him will be killed in public hangings or private disappearances if his forces win.