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It’s hard to feel confident that Britain is still a “pocket superpower,” as Stryker McGuire puts it. Libya is a reminder of the downsizing of Britain’s role in the world. Security officials, who give Colonel Muammar Gaddafi just months to survive (not a view shared by Anthony Loyd), privately say that when he goes, the British military action there will end. National debt, even more than the lessons of Iraq, constrains any impulse to stay.

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