Will the Libya intervention bring the end of NATO?


From Anne Applebaum, the Washington Post:  Two very important NATO members, Germany and Turkey, openly oppose the Libya mission and are refusing to play any operational role. A number of smaller members have made their objections known behind the scenes and aren’t sending anything much beyond the odd crate of food. The NATO secretary general has spent the past several days calling around Europe’s secondary capitals, asking for planes. More than once, he has been refused.

Even those who support the mission aren’t doing much about it. With a certain flourish, the Swedish parliament approved the deployment of Swedish planes abroad for first time in more than 40 years. Alas, the Swedish jets are allowed only to enforce the no-fly zone: That means they can shoot down Libyan government planes but cannot bomb ground targets. Since there aren’t any more Libyan government planes, this shouldn’t be too difficult.

But then, Dutch planes operate under the same restrictions. Norwegian planes, meanwhile, are apparently allowed to bomb air bases but nothing else. Italy’s planes have flown more than 100 missions but have not yet dropped a single bomb. The Canadians are doing a bit more, it is true — though Canadian politicians are bending over backward to avoid talking too much about it. …

In truth, the Libyan expedition is an Anglo-French project and has been from the beginning. Yet neither Britain nor France wants responsibility for the operation — and neither feels comfortable relying on the other. The French grumble that the American withdrawal has encouraged Moammar Gaddafi; the British think the French might now be distracted by a war in their former colony, Ivory Coast. …

If Britain and France run out of planes, fuel, money or enthusiasm, it’s over. And NATO — an organization that, I repeat, did not plan for, prepare for or even vote for the Libyan operation — will shoulder most of the blame. The use of NATO’s name, in Libya, is a fiction. But the weakening of NATO’s reputation in Libya’s wake might become horribly real.  (photo: NATO)

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