Thursday, February 24, 2011

When Incentives and Noble Aims Collide

Further on Libya, Businessweek reports that Switzerland has decided to freeze the assets of Gaddafi and his cronies for 3 years:
Switzerland froze the assets of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his entourage for three years to avoid the possible “misappropriation” of the funds.
The freeze takes effect immediately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The move comes less than two weeks after the government froze funds and assets in Switzerland belonging to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his circle.
“The Cabinet sharply condemns the use of force by Libyan rulers against the population,” the ministry said in an e- mailed statement from Bern today. “In view of the developments, the Cabinet decided to block any possible assets of Muammar Qaddafi and his circle in Switzerland with immediate effect.”
So what's the problem? Who wants to let this thug loot the treasury on his way out?

Well, me for one. Not because I don't think he's a monster that deserves far worse than he's going to get.

But think about it from the perspective of Gaddafi for second. Already people view you as a crazy loon, and you've vowed publicly to not leave until you're carried out in a box. (or more likely, hanged from meathooks on top of a petrol station)

But secretly, you're wondering if the gig is already up.You're losing control of cities left, right and centre. You've got two choices. One, grab what you can and fly to Venezuela, like was already rumoured. Or two, get whoever will still obey you in the airforce and army to start bombing, gassing, and killing as many people as you can in what will either be a defiant last stand or your one chance at regaining power.

So the first question is, which of these two outcomes would the west prefer to happen?

And the second question is, how do you think Gaddafi's decision will be affected if he knows that he can't take any money with him, and will be completely penniless in exile, as opposed to comfortably rich.?

It is more important to get rid of this monster than to keep him poor.

In the words of Sun Tzu:
Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard.
When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.

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