Libya’s impact on transatlantic security

British Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon jets landing at NATO airbase, March 20, 2011

From James Blitz, the Financial Times:  Above all, the US, having spearheaded the initial assault, took a back seat – catching Britain and France by surprise.

The Obama administration’s move put more pressure on the Europeans to keep the mission going. But it also may have long-term implications for transatlantic security. Military experts believe it indicates that the US – facing significant financial constraints and a growing security challenge from China – is warning the Europeans that they now need to look after their own backyard.

“The Libya mission has really underlined the military weakness of Europe,” said Etienne de Durand of IFRI, a French think-tank.

In the next few weeks Nato may be tempted to bask in the praise, especially if the Libyan situation stabilises. But the poor resourcing of this slow mission is unsettling some.

As one British government official put it on Monday: “There is a feeling of quiet satisfaction in Downing Street at what we are seeing in Tripoli. But it would have been good to have been here three months ago.”  (photo: Reuters)

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