Friday, March 25, 2011

Libya is Just Like ....?

Afghanistan.  Really.  Why?  The struggle to put together a NATO mission has clearly resulted from the lessons of Afghanistan--not to buy into a NATO mission until one is more or less sure what it is.  But the NATO wrangles are like Afghanistan in how the different nations are grappling with a new effort.  That is, there were two ways that NATO broadly dealt with the inter-state differences: write broad rules of engagement and let countries opt out of the things they could not/did not want; and co-exist with parallel efforts that have different goals and rules--Operation Enduring Freedom.

I must admit I have been a bit surprised that the Libya effort is starting to look more like the NATO/OEF combo than a NATO mission with lots of caveats (the former model). 
"The 28-member alliance would operate alongside the international coalition launched by the United States, Britain and France, he [Rasmussen, S-G of NATO] said."  "There will be a coalition operation and a NATO operation," he added, indicating that strikes against Gadhafi's tanks and artillery would continue to be in the hands of the coalition led by the United States, Britain and France.
This finesses Turkish objections to a more offensive mission and potentially allows Germany to come back in.  I guess Qatar and the U.A.E., as the token Arab states joining in, will join the NATO mission and not the more offensive one.  I hope that they do not name the ad hoc one anything that looks like, sounds like, or tastes like OEF even though the parallel should be pretty obvious.

The Germans must be thrilled that the Turks are getting all of the attention.  Why has Merkl so badly misplayed this?  See this piece provided by one of my readers (thanks!).  It does seem to be the case that neither Merkyl nor Westerwelle (the Foreign Minister) had a clue about how this would play domestically or internationally.  "In Germany, Foreign ministers are always among the most trusted and popular politicians – with the exception of Westerwelle."  Where is the plagiarizing but pretty sharp Defense Minister?  Ah, yes, Zu Guttenberg is out of office.  So, the German top politicians are risk averse.  We get that, but they could have saved their no's for later, when asked to do something significant.  They could have chosen the Turkish or Italian models--arms embargo but not so much no fly zone and only a defensive stance. 

Back to the Turks: their parliament has given the government a relatively blank check, but Prime Minister Erdogan has taken the opportunity here to play up Turkey's identification with Arabs and Muslims, distancing himself and his country from Europe.  Is this the price Europe is paying for alienating Turkey by keeping it out of the European Union?  Or is it the likely stance of the leader of a moderate Islamist party (as opposed to the more pro-military, pro-Western parties that have usually led Turkey)?  I don't know.  I hope a Turkish reader can provide some insight. 

I have to run off to an appropriately themed workshop on Nationalism and War, but hope to keep track of events via wifi and twitter.  Hopefully, I will have a chance to spew more about NATO, the OEF-like op to be named later, and all the rest later today.

1 comment:

Felix said...

"They could have chosen the Turkish or Italian models--arms embargo but not so much no fly zone and only a defensive stance."

This is precisely what no one understands over here either. Pundits are currently filling the op-ed pages of the major newspapers with furious comments... :)