Does anyone really know why we're at war in Libya?
Published 24/03/2011 | 08:00
Even before the Allied air strikes on the forces of Mad Dog had begun, the black humourists had commenced the inevitable text bombardment back here.
"Hi Gerry, need that gear back ASAP!!! Cheers, Gaddafi."
We know all about the murderous capacity of Muammar (below) only too well in this place.
But what else do we know about what is now happening in the old rogue's own back yard?
From the perspective of the ordinary punter all that shocking and awesome stuff in Libya, which has knocked even the awful agony of Japan from the front pages, is desperately confusing.
The Government insists Gaddafi was about to blitz opposition forces. For humanitarian reasons action just had to be taken against him. But there was no appetite for air strikes against the crazed colonel back when he was contributing to the killing of people here.
A few years on, Tony Blair even met him in his tent. Hugged him, did deals with him.
There had been markedly little support in the British establishment either for demands that Gaddafi pay compensation (as he did to American victims) for his crimes against local civilians.
Indeed, for a while there Mad Dog was making a bigger come-back than Elvis.
He was all but in from the cold.
The costumes were odd, the face a bit bloated, the behaviour strange and, true, the female Ukrainian bodyguard not what you expect with an international statesman. (But, then, sure look at Berlusconi ... )
Now, almost as fast as a Bedouin can pitch a tent, the West has turned against Gaddafi again.
But what is the real agenda now? Is it about oil? And do we know who might take over from him? Will they be more liberal. Or even more extreme?
Sometimes it seems a bit like we are living in a time of another week, another war.
In the last 10 years UK forces have been involved in Iraq, Afghanistan, now Libya.
Blair had his war, Brown had one and now Cameron does the hat-trick.
Will Nick Clegg want one too?
If we are to become the world's policeman there's certainly no shortage of other mad despots out there for our forces to tackle.
But this brings us to the crucial point for most ordinary punters.
Do we really want to squander more young lives of yet more heroic young soldiers - the bravest of the brave, to quote Mr Cameron - on... what?
Is there any sort of an exit strategy in this latest military action taken in our name?
The trouble is, of course, even when they try to provide answers it's hard to believe anything we are told by our leaders any more.
We always knew that politicians weren't beyond the odd lie.
But the scandal of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction forever detonated any residual strand of trust between those in the corridors of power and those of us watching from the sidelines.
In terms of natural disaster, commentators talk about compassion fatigue.
In terms of military action, is it not the case that we all now suffer from aggression fatigue?
And no wonder.
Our leaders wage war in the name of the people. But here, as in Libya, the people don't really have a whole lot of say in the matter.