Europe has dramatically changed its tune. Having once embraced Arab autocrats it is now supporting democracy in the Middle East, selectively. In Libya, they are intervening militarily, although Gaddafi was until recently a guest of honour in their capitals.
This diplomatic double dealing might be common place in international relations, but it is now being dressed-up in the moral hyperbole of humanitarian intervention.
To some, the NATO-led intervention has complicated the natural progression of the Arab awakening; others feel that despite their cynical calculations Western powers are, for the first time, on the right side of Arab history.
Empire travels across Europe’s centres of power to examine the hypocrisy of the Arab world’s closest neighbours.
France and Britain, who not so long ago were openly courting Gaddafi’s oil money, were quick to send their fighter jets across the Mediterranean.
And Italy belatedly joined the bombing operation, signalling another volte-face for Berlusconi, who had touted his 2008 “Friendship Treaty” with Libya as his greatest foreign affairs success.
No wonder NATO is straining to keep all its members on-message and onboard.
Empire asks: Does this NATO operation epitomise Western double standards? Why is Europe reacting strongly in Libya, but indifferent to what is happening in Syria and playing nice with Bahrain?
How broad is the coalition supporting this operation? And will Libya be seen as the defining moment for Western intervention in the 21st century?
Joining us to discuss these issues are: Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general; Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister; Emma Bonino, the vice president of the Italian senate; Nathalie Tocci, the deputy director of the Instituto Affari Internationali; Elisa Morganitini, the former vice president of the European parliament; Dominique Moisi, co-founder of the French Institute for International Relations; Alvaro de Vasconcelos, the director of the EU Institute for Security Studies; and Francis Ghiles, a fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Studies.