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Who are the Libyan rebels? What do they want? Why do we love them so?

Politics seems to have become a sort of mental illness. We have no bloody business in Libya, and no idea what we hope to achieve there.

We are daily told that we have no money to spare. We have just scrapped a large part of our Navy.

Our Army is stuck in an Afghan war whose point nobody can explain. And now we have set out on a course that could drag us into a long, gory brawl in North Africa.

And yet, when the Prime Minister announces this folly he is praised. Why? Partly it is because we all watch too much TV. Its reports simplify, then exaggerate.

Reporters, much like politicians, like to feel they are helping to make history, and get excited by subjects they knew nothing about until last Wednesday.

Before we know where we are, we are taking sides in quarrels we don't understand. Who are the Libyan rebels? What do they want? Why do we love them so?

I've no idea, and nor has Mr Cameron, as we discovered when he (yes, it was him, not poor William Hague) sent the SAS to see them and they were welcomed with pitchforks and mockery.

The only sensible policy in Libya is to wait and see who wins, and then make friends with them. If you think this heartless, you are of course right. Foreign policy is heartless. Nice countries end up being conquered or going bankrupt. But it may be no more heartless than our kindly interference.

I pray that this episode ends quickly and cleanly. Perhaps it will. But we cannot know.

What if our humanitarian bombs and missiles accidentally kill women and children (which is almost certain)? What if air attacks and distant shelling fail to stop Gaddafi's forces? Will we then send in troops? Who knows? I don't. The Prime Minister doesn't.

Some of the longest wars in history started with small-scale intervention, for a purpose that looked good and achievable, and ended up ruining millions of lives. The Soviet takeover of Afghanistan in 1979 ended with countless innocents driven into refugee camps, and the collapse of the Soviet state itself. It also left Afghanistan as a worse snake pit than before.

Why are we suddenly so worried about Muammar Gaddafi?

It's fashionable just now to get very hoity-toity about him. But until recently many of the war enthusiasts were rather keen on him, for supposedly heeding the fate of Saddam and changing his behaviour. Liberal idealists might also consider that Gaddafi is one of the heroes of their hero Nelson Mandela (there is film on YouTube of a touching embrace between these two).

There's no principle at stake here, or we would be bombing Bahrain too, and demanding the withdrawal of the Saudi troops who arrived there in such sinister fashion last Monday. But Bahrain's the base of the U.S. 5th Fleet, so we won't be doing that. And as I've said here before, this supposed objection to rulers killing their own people is not consistent. Sometimes - as in China, Bahrain and Syria - we're happy to let them do it.

So why are we rattling the drums of war and fuelling up for a fight in a place where our national interests would be best served by staying out?

If the Arab League members want to intervene, they've got plenty of weapons not currently being used to attack Israel. I can only conclude that our Government is historically ignorant, politically dim, immune to good advice and swollen with personal vanity.