The Europeans’ Libya campaign has stalemated. Now what?
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Exacerbating the problem is the allies’ claim that they are in Libya only to protect civilians, even as they insist that Gaddafi must be ousted. Which is it? Conservative MP John Baron wants Parliament — which actually voted on going to war, in contrast to Congress — to be recalled to debate the apparent change in mission. Said Baron: “If one was being charitable one would say that this is mission creep. It one was being uncharitable, one would say this was always the underlying motive.”
In any case, NATO is not doing enough to effect regime change. And that isn’t likely to change. At the foreign ministers’ gathering, only Rome indicated that it would think about doing more. And then it said no: “We are doing enough already,” said Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Spain also said no. A frustrated Alain Juppé said that “NATO must play its role fully.”
But what is the alliance for? It was created to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact. When aggressive, hegemonic communism disappeared two decades ago, NATO lost its raison d’être. The Europeans still had security concerns, but none required a continued American military occupation.
The U.S. should have pulled out, allowing the Europeans to reconfigure their defense, through either a NATO without America or a new military organization growing out of the European Union. Today the EU has a combined population and economy larger than those of the U.S. Protecting new members in the east, patrolling the Balkans, and knocking off North African dictators should be the Europeans’ responsibility.
Instead, Washington has allowed the Europeans to draw the U.S. into European disputes of little interest to America. Indeed, President Sarkozy appears to fancy himself as Nicolas Bonaparte, threatening “every Arab leader” who uses violence to stay in power. Yet Paris is unable to deal with Libya. We all know whose military the little Napoleon expects to borrow for any additional Arabian adventures.
Still, Sarkozy’s chutzpah pales compared to that of Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, who announced that stopping Gaddafi “requires military action.” The landlocked Grand Duchy, with a population of under a half million, has no air force or navy. The army contains precisely 900 men. There also is a paramilitary gendarmerie with 612 personnel. Good to know that Luxembourg believes military action is required.
War in Libya makes no sense. It is a waste of money. And it is Europe’s problem.Washington should end its participation in Libya’s civil war before the U.S. is hopelessly entangled in its third conflict in a Muslim land. If Paris and London want this war, let them fight this war. America should get out and stay out.
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