Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Libya, cont'd

Claude Guéant should never have been let out of the Élysée:

Le ministre de l'Intérieur, Claude Guéant, s'illustre une nouvelle fois par des propos maladroits. Après ses paroles assumées sur l'immigration, il explique lundi 21 mars au figaro.fr pourquoi Nicolas Sarkozy a eu raison de prendre "la tête de la croisade pour mobiliser le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies et puis la Ligue arabe et l'Union africaine" concernant la Libye. "Heureusement qu'il était là. Parce que le monde entier s'apprêtait à contempler à la télévision des massacres commis par le colonel Kadhafi, heureusement, le président a pris la tête de la croisade pour mobiliser le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies et puis la Ligue arabe et l'Union africaine", a-t-il exactement déclaré hier dans l'émission le Talk du site.
What a disaster he has been in his short tenure as interior minister. Who would have thought we'd be regretting Hortefeux and Alliot-Marie so quickly?

Meanwhile, all is not sweetness and light between David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy. Cameron wants the Libyan incursion to become a NATO operation when the US lays back; Sarkozy does not.

Britain wants NATO to take over but France does not, and Italy is threatening to rethink its participation unless NATO takes command.
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament that the intention is to turn over command for the international force implementing a no-fly zone to NATO. “Let me explain how the coalition will work — it’s operating under U.S. command with the intention that this will transfer to NATO,” Mr. Cameron said. That would allow all NATO allies who wanted to participate to do so. “Clearly the mission would benefit from that and from using NATO’s tried-and-tested machinery in command and control,” he said.
But France objects to turning Libya into a NATO operation, arguing from the start that Arab countries do not want a NATO label on the mission. Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said in Brussels on Monday that “the Arab League does not wish the operation to be entirely placed under NATO responsibility. It isn’t NATO which has taken the initiative up to now.” 
Translation: Sarkozy is enjoying his star turn on the international stage and does not want to be pushed out of the limelight. (Apologies for the formatting: Blogger has messed things up, and I don't have time to plunge into the HTML. You get the picture, I hope.)


Louis said...

Certainly Sarkozy enjoys the attention. But there is something else to the affair in my opinion.
First, selling to Arab and African opinions the Arab league's support to strikes in Libya might not be that easy, and it would get harder if the NATO label would become more visible. Second, the entire operation seems to me like a convenient prooving ground for the European cooperation in military affairs Sarkozy has been aiming at.
Libya is really important only to the Europeans, and it would be a great occasion to build on the ground this European defense pillar Sarkozy aimed at when reinvesting NATO's military command a few years ago. With all his faults, he has been consistent in this line, and for sure Juppé thinks the same. I do not doubt they see operations in Libya as a possibility to show off European capabilities on a theater the French have easy access to and know reasonably well. That Germany and now the UK show less enthusiasm for this than Sarkozy is no great surprise. Now let's see how this will unfold.

As to Guéant, what is there to say? Les bras m'en tombent...

Cincinna said...

Very interesting observations about Europe and NATO. Your argument makes total logical sense. And your English is excellent!
I think there is a much stronger case to be made for French intervention and Sarko's leadership role. France & Europe have National Security interests in Libya, because of dependence on Libyan oil, among other reasons.
I still see no justification for American intervention. Aside from the Constitutional issues involved, the US has no National Security issues at stake here.
Personally, I dont believe that Sarko is doing this as a cynical move for 2012. I think he genuinely believes in a strong cohesive Europe, and in NATO, with France in a leadership role.

Louis said...

@Cincinna: I too would see little motive for an American intervention. The problem is thus: for all Sarkozy's intentions, even on the Mediterranean theater, with bases in Corsica and French vessels at sea between Sardinia and the North-African coast, it is up to the Americans to do most of the hard work. This is Sarkozy's "Euro-pillar"'s first and foremost default. This could only be alleviated through strong European cooperations in defence capabilities, but we are far from that.