The Anglo-Libyan war of 1984

Given that the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher was an act of war (deadly force used from Libyan sovereign territory against a uniformed servant of the Crown, resulting in death), shouldn't we have declared war? Or rather, wouldn't most of us on this site have declared war, collected our SLR's from the armoury and thought about the consequences later?

A sensible response might have been to surround the Libyan embassy with AVRE's and demolish it, with the offending individuals inside. But then what? What could we have actually done against Libya, militarily?

Given the (presumably) large numbers of Brits working in Libya at the time, maybe our options would have been limited to hostage rescue. We probably wouldn't have wanted to invade. Could we have won an air war using our Tornados and Sea Harriers? How much help do you think we would have got from our 'allies' (I think we all know how much use the Belgians would have been, but would the French have allowed overflights, for instance).

I just look at the situation, see how restrained Mrs. Thatcher was, and wonder why.
You must understand the Cold War was peaking around 84/85, anything that took UK troops away from (slighty) getting in the way of the 3rd Shock Army would've been a bad thing. Also Mrs Thatcher couldn't do anything without US approval.
Remember that the British Embassy was surrounded by the Libyan Army at the time of the murder. I hate to think what would have happened if Thatcher had gotten too worked up.


Book Reviewer
We should have done Gadaffi in 1969 when he was standing in the sights of a Saladin 76mm
collected our SLR's from the armoury
We did in '86, when the Yanks bombed Tripoli. We then propmtly returned them and got pick-axe handles instead. As the public foot-path running through the barracks wasn't closed, we had to return the pick-axe handles, resorting to polite langauge should we face the need to challenge someone.
"Or rather, wouldn't most of us on this site have declared war"

That's why decision like that are left to politicians and not to slightly deranged ex squaddies who can't let go, and suspect military fantasist who in all likelihood post in there pants from a grungy bed sit.


Book Reviewer
For intetrest, have a look at what happened when GadNaffi tried to use his army against Africans:

He didn't do badly to start with, using tanks and BM21s against ill-equipped opposition, but had his ass handed to him on a couple of occasions by the French Army and Air Force. It's a long story, but worth reading about - Russian and E German 'advisors' v French. In the end, the Chadians kicked out the Libyans, using Toyota-mounted Milans to great effect.

Gaddaffi responded, as is his way, by blowing up a Frog airliner, with the loss of 171 lives:
UTA Flight 772 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In case anyone forgets - this man was, and is, an utter ****.
It wasn't an act of war, it was a criminal act and the immunity rules kicked-in.

As difficult as it is to stomach (then and now), diplomatic immunity works both ways.
Angular - If you'd been a diplomat at the time in some dodgy country you would have had a slightly different opinion.

Diplomatic immunity is the big one, it keeps our people alive and makes diplomacy possible and the consequences of breaching this age-old principle would be disastrous.

Maggie kept a clear head and both eyes on the big picture. Well done her.
Though the F-111s that bombed Tripoli in 1986 flew from bases in the UK. Revenge being a dish best served cold.
Though (sic) the F-111s that bombed Tripoli in 1986 flew from bases in the UK. Revenge being a dish best served cold.
F-111s did fly from the UK for Operation EL DORADO CANYON in 1986 but most of the aircraft involved flew from carriers. The US Navy launched 14 A-6E Intruders and 6 A-7E Corsairs from USS America plus 6 F/A-18 Hornets from USS Coral Sea (both in the Mediterranean) to bomb radar and anti-aircraft sites in Benghazi before bombing the Benina and Jamahiriya barracks in Tripoli. Two of the A-6Es were forced to abort the mission but all 26 aircraft returned to their carriers safely after dropping 72 x 500 lb bombs and launching 12 Shrike and 36 HARM anti-radar missiles.

In the same raid, 18 USAF F-111F Aardvarks (with admittedly larger bomb loads) flew from the UK and had to route around France, Spain and through the Straits of Gibraltar because France, Spain and Italy denied overflight rights and use of their bases (never happens, right?). This added 1,300 miles (2,100 km) to the trip each way and 6-7 hours flight time demanding astronomical AAR. Five F-111Fs were forced to abort the mission and one was shot down. Only eight hit their targets.

Top cover was provided by several F-14 Tomcats and four E-2C Hawkeye airborne command and control and warning aircraft, all flying from the carriers.

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