Monday, June 6, 2011

Caveats Ahoy!

NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen is calling for more NATO members to pick up the slack over the skies of Libya.  Good luck with that. 
NATO has intensified its campaign, launching daily raids on Tripoli, but only nine of NATO's 28 member states are taking part in the strikes. France and Britain are bearing the brunt of the load with helicopters now in their arsenal.   The other countries are the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and non-NATO state the United Arab Emirates.
The big surprises there from the Steve and Dave project are Belgium and Italy.  I guess Belgium demonstrates that it might be easier to have an assertive foreign policy without a government than with a coalition.  I am skeptical that Italy is doing more than providing bases.  Is Italy really dropping bombs?  It would not be the first time that Italy said it dropped its restrictions and then didn't.

The less obvious difference between Libya and Afghanistan is that all NATO countries (and then some with about twenty partners [Australia, New Zealand, Jordan and so on]) gave at least token force to the effort, such as Greece having 15 guys deployed at one time.  For the Libyan effort, many members providing nothing.  For many, it is a matter of capability--that the Baltics have nothing to give.  For others, it is simply too much, politically or logistically, such as Poland

This Sec-Gen speech is an effort to hector the free riders to kick in some support, given how burdened the nine strikers are.  I doubt that he will be successful in getting a greater commitment from the less enthused.  The domestic dynamics, plus the ability to say I gave at the office in Afghanistan, means that NATO is not going to get much more help.  The good news appears to be that Qaddafi's supporters are ebbing away.  He now officially has outlasted Milosevic since the Kosovo campaign lasted 79 days.  This effort may exceed one hundred days but not much more than that, I think.  Indeed, I would rather bet on the under of the over/under of 120 days, compared to the under of a NATO participation over/under of 11 members engaging in air strikes.

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