NATO balks at Libya nation-building, policing

An NTC fighter sits on top of a truck-mounted anti-aircraft gun in Washtata, September 12, 2011

From Slobodan Lekic, the AP:  NATO, which has been bogged down for nearly 10 years in Afghanistan and more than 12 in Kosovo, is desperately seeking a mission it can end, quickly, cleanly and for good.

So at the top levels of the military alliance there is great eagerness to wrap up the Libyan air campaign as soon as possible, and great reluctance to get involved in nation-building or policing now that the country’s former leader, Moammar Gadhafi, has fallen from power.

"We must end this Libyan business quickly," one senior military officer told The Associated Press. "We just cannot afford this proliferation of missions which just drag on and on. One needs to finally end."

Several other senior military officers expressed the same concern, saying NATO could not afford another longterm engagement at a time of deep cuts in defense budgets. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. . . .

NATO members are concerned that the Libyan operation is distracting the alliance from its main mission, the war in Afghanistan.

[NATO Secretary General Anders] Fogh Rasmussen denies the campaign in Libya has affected the effort in Afghanistan, where levels of violence are near record highs and the Taliban have inflicted a series of high-profile blows to the Kabul government and international forces.

But he, too, has made it clear that any follow-up operation in Libya, such as assisting and training the new army and police, must be led by the United Nations rather than by NATO. . . .

Brig. Gen. Massimo Pannizzi said NATO’s Military Committee – the alliance’s top military body – will discuss the situation in Afghanistan at its next meeting on Friday in Seville, Spain.

"They will share their views on the transition progress but also take a wider, more long-term look at NATO’s future involvement, especially in the post-2014 era," Pannizzi said Tuesday.  (photo: Getty)

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