Justifiably or not, the narrative during the Bush era went thus: Nato is able and willing but arrogant USA has little faith in the capabilities of its allies.
UnBush Obama changed all that. We will get you started, he said, but then the Libyan job is yours. NATO should be able to handle as minor a job as that as close to their backyard as Libya is.
Alas, daily, the NATO emperor is revealed to have no cloths as rebels complain that Misurata is shelled with impunity reminding the world of Srebrenica.
“Since NATO has been in charge, it has been a disaster,” Shatwan said. With a more vigorous campaign of airstrikes, Libya’s opposition “could finish him in less than 10 days,” he claimed.
He may exaggerate the power of the opposition but not the weakness of Nato and, of course, the two are connected. Spiegel online reports:
The withdrawal of the American planes, which flew more than half of the sorties in the first two weeks of the air strikes, has weakened NATO’s potential force. With the organization having taken control of the operation, American planes are now only in standby mode, leaving the much smaller air forces of France and the United Kingdom to take on most of the workload. Appeals from the NATO leadership to member countries to send more aircraft have so far been met with little success. Only the British have beefed up their presence, increasing the number of its Tornado contingent from eight to 12.
It has been so bad that France publicly threatened to act alone again.
France, frustrated at Nato’s ineffectiveness, yesterday vowed to use its own forces to open up a humanitarian aid corridor between the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and the besieged city.”We are going to ensure that aid comes from Benghazi and that at no moment Gaddafi’s military forces will be able to stop this,” said Gerard Longuet, the French defence minister.
But France has to split its assets between Ivory Coast and Libya.
Nato admitted that its tight “rules of engagement” and a ban on land forces were a barrier to operations.
Why? Because Turkey is in NATO and Turkey opposes “intervention” to help rebels win and to prevent it insists on strict adherence to the spirit and letter of the UN resolution:
Believe it or not, fewer dead in Misurata may be the current Nato limited goal. There is something satisfying in exposing the truth about European military helplessness. However, the outcome of that exposure is unlikely to be a European decision to increase military spending. Europeans have neither the means of the will for such an action. Instead, expect a major blame game to follow the Libyan debacle. For Nato is about to lose its value even as an American multilateral fig leaf.
For more, see my History News Network blog Deja vu
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