EU, not NATO, should lead on Libya

The EU

From Sarwar Kashmeri, the Foreign Policy Association:  The Libyan war has illuminated NATO’s dysfunctional structure and presents the United States with a unique opportunity to permanently change the way Europe handles its end of the transatlantic security bargain. America should grab the opportunity by turning over the conduct of the Libyan war to the European Union’s Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP)– the EU’s crisis management arm — and exit this conflict. That will be good for America, for Europe, and ultimately in the best interest of the wider transatlantic alliance. As President Obama told the nation on March 21, 2011, "…the burden of action should not be America’s alone. …"
Two of the larger CSDP missions illustrate the EU’s military capabilities.
EUNAVFOR, launched in 2008 is the EU’s first naval mission. It protects shipping off the coast of Somalia and is twice the size of NATO’s anti-piracy force. More relevant to the Libyan situation was EUFOR CHAD/CAR which deployed, and sustained a powerful fighting force of 3,800 in the middle of Africa, thousands of miles from Brussels, for 19 months. The force operated under a United Nations mandate to protect over 400,000 refugees, and operated over an area twice the size of France. The Naval mission continues. The mission to Africa accomplished its objectives and handed control to a United Nations force in March 2009. Interestingly, France played a leading role in the success of the EU’s military intervention in Africa, as it is doing in Libya. …
During the research for my forthcoming book on NATO, I spoke to over 50 military and political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. I made it a point to ask some of the senior most military leaders of the EU if, with CSDP, Europe now had the means to defend itself and to act militarily in Europe’s periphery. Their answer was always in the affirmative, with one proviso — providing "we have the will."
The politics would be unnerving for a while. But I am convinced when they are forced to deal with Libya themselves, the Europeans will get the job done. As they have done 27 times in the last decade.
The EU has the military means to handle its own security. All it needs is the will, and Libya provides the opportunity for America to give Europe that will.
Sarwar Kashmeri is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s International Security Program. He is the author of the forthcoming book NATO 2.0: Reboot or Delete.  (graphic: tangledblog)

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