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Libya Exposes Contradictions

James Joyner of the Atlantic Council has a great op-ed on Libya:

Yes, Gadhafi was ultimately ousted - after six months - with a European face on the fight. But it came at the cost of undermining our partners' confidence in American leadership as well as rendering hypocritical our complaints about European "caveats" in Afghanistan.

Second, the fight has both reaffirmed my belief that NATO is an absolutely vital vehicle for transatlantic cooperation and underscored my fear that it is structurally unsound. Headline writers to the contrary, the toppling of the Gadhafi regime is an unqualified success for the Alliance. Who else could have, in short order, coordinated a complex operation with American, Canadian, European and Arab states? Certainly, not the European Union. Nor was the French offer to simply lead in an ad hoc fashion acceptable to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and others. Years of working and training together under a stable institutional framework had created vital trust.

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Four Questions on Libya and the Middle East

Guest article by Professor Stefan Wolff from the University of Nottingham 

(1) If Gaddafi supporters in/outside the regime did not fight, where are they and what are their plans?

Resistance collapsed relatively quickly on the road to, and in, Tripoli, but that does not mean that the regime as a whole and across the country has been comprehensively defeated. The rebels clearly have the upper hand now and momentum is on their side, but there is a danger of setbacks.

Looking at the most recent, and most traumatic, transitions of a similar kind, in both Iraq and Afghanistan regime loyalists of varying kinds resurfaced. In Iraq, they were partly defeated and partly co-opted after a very violent civil war drawing in significant foreign forces; in Afghanistan this process is still far from resolved. Both cases also demonstrate that al-Qaeda and its upshots are very adept at exploiting the instability that usually follows violent regime collapse, if only to establish (temporary) alliances of convenience to further their own agenda.

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Tomahawk Missiles Instead of Fulbright Scholars

After 9/11, the US Congress realized the need for in-depth knowledge of world affairs and advanced language proficiency and increased the Fulbright-Hays budget. This program "supports research and training efforts overseas, which focus on non-Western foreign languages and area studies."

Apparently the post-9/11 era is over now. A few days after Bin Laden's death, the 2011 Fulbright-Hays dissertation fellowships have been cancelled due to budget cuts. $5,800,000 had been estimated, when the US Department of Education invited applications in September 2010, while pointing out that "the actual level of funding, if any, depends on final Congressional action."

It's a disgrace that this prestigious and important fellowship program does not have secure funding.

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Defending Germany, Defending NATO, Defending Definitions

Jorge Benitez of the Atlantic Council writes in the New Atlanticist about the new NATO, which "is defined by US caveats, French political will, British leadership, German uncertainty, and a tangible level of commitment by some allies."

It's a good article, but I take issue with some of the harsher criticism against Germany, even though I agree that our foreign minister did not handle this issue well. Jorge writes:

Perhaps the most controversial component of the new NATO is Germany. Since World War II, Germany has kept a strong relationship with Paris and Washington, sometimes at the expense of one over the other. But even when exploring better relations with Moscow, Germany has always moved forward with preferably both, but at least one of its main allies. The Libyan crisis has been a painful exception. Berlin now seems to be pursuing a new path, Lostpolitik. How long will Berlin favor unilateral policies or new allies, instead of the allies that helped make Germany whole, prosperous, and free?

Germany's recent actions have had a deep impact on its allies. The US may not say so publicly, but privately, neither Washington nor Paris is certain that Germany can be counted on in times of conflict. At the same time, all across the alliance, voters are becoming more aware that after so many decades of being a consumer of security from NATO, Germany is now reluctant to become a provider of security for its allies. 

Furthermore, Berlin should be ashamed of excuses about coalition politics and electoral distractions. After all, Belgium was able to take its place on the front lines with its allies, even though it has not had a government in over a year.

What new allies? Allies are members of an alliance, which is a big deal. Germany abstained in the Libya vote. Russia, China, India and Brasil happen to have voted the same way, but that does not make these five countries allies. What is indeed shameful, however, is that according to Majid Sattar in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung our foreign minister and his staff made phone calls all night before the UN vote to convince other Security Council members to abstain.

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A Casual-Friday Approach to German Diplomacy

Guest blog article from Marian Wirth:

About three decades ago, German diplomats were apparently capable of having clear goals and executing ambitious plans by choosing on-target measures, as this chipper "thank you"-note from Marilyn Monroe to then-Consulate General in Los Angeles, Volkmar von Zühlsdorff sufficiently illustrates. Even if the mission allegedly wasn't successful (and hasn't been within the realm of diplomatic duties anyway), the attempt at least left the target audience happy.

What a difference to the quagmire German diplomacy finds itself in nowadays! Especially the German antics with regard to Libya have lead to a lot of raised eyebrows, to say the least.

When I read the final paragraph of Charlemagne's blog post on the "Return of the Afrika (aid) Korps",

It would be a cruel irony if Germany, in its attempt to restore its battered credibility among its allies, were to expose its forces to greater danger on the ground in Misrata than if it had taken part in the air or maritime operations to begin with.

I couldn't help but think of one of the corner stones of German humor, which might serve as an outlook as to what German diplomacy under Guido Westerwelle is headed.

Why NATO Members Disagree on Libya

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." (...)

Apart from that, we've got a consensus!

Oh, boy.