Monday, March 21, 2011

NATO over Libya (continued)

It is becoming pretty clear that Turkey is one of the key obstacles to a NATO mission over Libya, rather than an ad hoc effort.  Three problems with this:
  1. Italy needs a NATO blessing to host the bases, apparently.  Losing Italy as a base would be a huge challenge for the effort.  While we complain about interoperability being over-estimated, it is clear that Italy can serve as a good host to the Canadian, Danish, Norwegian, British and American planes. 
  2. The US really does not want to be in the lead, but right now it is doing most of the command and control.  
  3. The most obvious regional organization to run this is, of course, not the Arab League but the European Union.*  The EU has been trying to be a decent defense organization since forever, but has always failed miserably.  One of the challenges has always been NATO-EU cooperation since any effort to develop such links get vetoed on one side by the Turks and on the other side by the Greeks (since the Turks are not in the EU and resent it, and the Greeks, well, like to stick to the Turks).**
*  I would prefer that the Evil League of Evil take care of this, as Qaddafi is an embarrassment to their organization, but others find it hard to really play the "Enemy of my enemy is a friend" strategy.
** Simplistic assessment of the situation?  Sure.  Comment if you think it is much more complex than that.
Developing EU capacity is the last thing the Turks want.  But they also don't like seeing bombs dropped on Muslims either, I guess.  Their stance in Afghanistan is very interesting--they are in a position to block NATO OPLANs (operational plans) and such, but have not.  Instead, they keep a very defensive posture (no offensive operations) in Kabul plus a PRT in a quiet part of the north.  So, they participate in a pretty war-like effort but do not do much warring themselves.  They could choose not to break silence (the NATO parlance) and let a NATO command and control mission go ahead. 

Of course, then the Germans might be compelled to take a stance (they abstained on the UN resolution).  My guess is that the Germans would not get in the way directly but would limit via caveats and other restrictions units that have Germans (think AWACS planes) from significantly participating. 

Very interesting times.  If only I was working on a book on how domestic political dynamics affects participation in multilateral military operations....  Oh, I am?  Cool.


MSS said...

Is the German abstention mainly about all the elections Merkel's coalition is about to take a dusting in? Or is there likely more to it?

Steve Saideman said...

Good question. I don't know yet--haven't had the chance to do the work. It might be that Merkl does not want any bruising battles trying to get a new mandate passed through the Bundestag. And that is what it would take to actually do anything, such as sending NATO AWACS staffed by German officers.

MSS said...

So does German law specifically require advance approval?

Would it also have to clear the Bundesrat? The coalition lost its majority there recently. But it may not even need to pass there, given that it's not obviously an issue of Land interest.

I'm guessing those state elections loom large in the government's calculations.

Steve Saideman said...

The German Constitutional Court has ruled that deployments need approval by the Bundestag. I am not a legal scholar so I may get a fine point wrong or two, but that is the gist as far as I have been able to discover and as far as German behavior seems to be.

The elections might matter. Also getting a vote through that is not just minimum winning coalition is important--otherwise other parties are not implicated.