Can Europe Afford Its Libya Campaign?


From Meera Selva and Danica Kirka, the AP:  "This has been a bit of a virility test for the French and the British to show they can do this by themselves, but they have been struggling, with munitions, equipment, everything," said Anand Menon , professor of European politics at Birmingham University.

"It’s costing a fortune," Menon said. "It’s a curious thing that in the age of austerity, they are able to embark on a mission like this. . . ." 

Shashank Joshi, an analyst with the Royal United Services Institute, suggested Libya operations could cost Britain 900 million pounds ($1.4 billion) if they continue until September.

France is now spending about euro1 million ($1.4 million) per day in Libya beyond what’s already been budgeted for the military this year, said Gen. Philippe Ponties, a French Defense Ministry spokesman. With the operation hitting its 90th day for France, he said the excess cost so far totals about euro87 million ($126 million).

Britain’s chief of defense staff, Gen. David Richards, insisted Tuesday that Britain can continue operations in Libya as long as it needs to. But another senior NATO official echoed Stanhope’s comments, saying that if the alliance’s intervention in Libya continues, the issue of resources will become "critical. . . ."

Cost and munitions aside, the political clock is also ticking for [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy: Under France’s constitution, any foreign military venture needs parliamentary approval to go beyond four months – a deadline fast approaching.

"For the next 15 days, I think Sarkozy is going to have pretty fair sailing, and the whole thing may end in the next 15 days, but if it hasn’t, then we’re going to start entering uncharted political waters," said Francois Heisbourg, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research think tank in Paris.

"Will he get the authorization? Yes, he will," Heisbourg said. "Will it be easy? That, I’m not so sure."  (photo: Reuters)

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