Friday, June 24, 2011

Keep on Swimming: Pool Update

Ok, perhaps I got a bit enthused about the Libyan pool of regime change with the hope of a June outcome.  These things always take longer than we hoped.  Funny how doing as little as possible (no ground troops, no American A-10's or AC 130s) can prolong a mission.

Which will break first: Qaddafi or NATO? The Italians made some noises after this week's errant air strike, but the French and British quickly re-asserted their commitment.  And folks (if Senator McCain counts as a folk) are now saying that if NATO fails here, then NATO is toast.*  So, the contest will continue. 
*  No, NATO is not a dead organization if it fails here.  This is not a core mission nor essential to NATO's identity as a security organization for Europe.  It would dent NATO's reputation, but there will be plenty of interest/inertia in keeping NATO around.  The EU has not come close.  And you are not going to see folks jettison an institution unless there is a replacement.
Putting NATO's reputation on the line is just part of the Chicken game that is playing out here (but apparently not in the new Footloose remake!).  Thus far, Qaddafi has played the game as well as one can: by burning bridges, acting like he does not care about dying, and so forth. The NATO allies have been playing chicken quite poorly, demonstrating a lack of resolve any chance they can get.  But, as with Kosovo, the institution's reputation will become the stakes that people really care about and not so much the people of Libya. 

So, June is looking to be out, July may be too soon, but August is looking pretty good.  Too bad everyone will be on vacation. 

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