NATO’s strategic incoherence costs Libyan lives

Libyan rebels scatter as mortars fired by Libyan army troops crash down.

From James Lindsay, CNNBritain, France, and Italy took a step deeper into the Libyan civil war this week by announcing that they will send military advisers to aid the beleaguered rebels. The decision grabbed headlines, but it won’t do much to change the course of the fighting. . . . .

Washington has applauded its allies’ decision, but it is not following suit. The Obama administration is only offering the rebels $25 million in body armor, tents, uniforms, and other nonlethal equipment.

The British, French, and Italian decisions are a tacit admission that the prospects for ousting Muammar Gadhafi have dimmed. The rebels have failed in their effort to retake key Libyan towns. Meanwhile, the situation in Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, has grown increasingly grim as pro-Gadhafi forces continue to attack rebel positions.

But deciding to do something is not the same thing as deciding to do enough. . . . .

This highlights the fundamental strategic flaw in NATO’s military operations. Washington, Paris, and London decided that Gadhafi must go, but they are unwilling to pay the cost to make that happen. Libyan civilians, precisely the people the NATO mission is supposed to protect, are paying the price for this strategic incoherence.

Dr. James Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former director for global issues and multilateral affairs at the National Security Council.  (photo: Getty)

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