The 28 NATO members gave the Alliance a new Strategic Concept with three core tasks: collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security. Yet, just four months after the historic Lisbon summit, the members disagree considerably on NATO's role in the crisis management concerning Libya.
After many long deliberations NATO is currently only responsible for enforcing an arms embargo against Libya, although NATO has completed plans to "help enforce the no-fly zone," as Secretary General Rasmussen explains in a very long and diplomatic sentence in this video:
James Joyner of the Atlantic Council posts a "slightly tongue-in-cheek, guide to the intra-alliance debate over NATO's role in Libya":
The Italians want NATO to take over so they can avoid national responsibility (i.e., tell their Arab friends "it's not us, it's NATO, so we don't have a choice").
The French want to keep NATO out because they want to prove that THEY are the true friends of the Arabs, and they'll keep that bad NATO away.
The Germans want to keep NATO out because they don't believe in military action, and NATO having responsibility means Germany would be held to be responsible. (...)
The US wants NATO to take over as a "handoff" -- even though it means a handoff to ourselves. In the American political lexicon, NATO has come to mean "Europe" -- and the Obama team just wants to hand off so it's not an "Obama war." (...)
Excellent, very timely post. Thoughts:
1) The UN-NATO system apparently cannot even steel itself sufficiently to go after known pirate base-ships on the high seas. Therefore, I am not optimistic about the alleged Libyan arms embargo. So far the main effect of the embargo has been to starve the rebels of weapons.
2) A huge part NATO's problem re Libya is Turkey, who, according to the Middle East Cold War hypothesis, tends to side with Iran on these issues. Iran, deathly afraid that the Arab Spring could spread to Persia, is now essentially supporting Ghaddafi, which influences the Turkish position.
Before the Iraq War, NATO had a similar problem. OIF was not a NATO operation, but required NATO resources for various reasons, one of which, in supreme irony, was the defense of the Turkey-Iraq border. Back then, the NATO hold-out was France. The solution was a nearly-forgotten group called the [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/belgium/1422356/Nato-ends-deadlock-on-Turkey.html]NATO Defense Planning Committee[/url], which was the mechanism for deciding NATO issues separately from NATO's "political" wing. This committee was a legacy of France's departure in 1967.
I wonder if there is a similar committee that could be used to bypass Turkish intransigence?
3) I am very, very concerned about war by committee, more commonly known as the Vietnam Syndrome.
4) Assassination would be delightful, although it would presumably exceed the UN mandate. Another approach, that also presumably exceeds the mandate, would be to work with the Libyan rebels in the same way as the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. L'audace, toujours de l'audace! But US special forces are tied up right now, it would have to be someone else's operation...
5) A persistent theme in Obama's foreign policy has been to demand concessions from our friends, while treating our enemies with kid gloves. An advantage of this controversial engagement in Libya is that we weaken that perception somewhat.