Cartoon: Ken Catalino.
A Washington Post opinion piece by George Will, “Libya and the Potemkin Alliance,” began as a criticism of the refusal of the Obama Administration to abide by the War Powers Resolution with regard to their action in Libya. He then went a lot further in criticizing, not only the war but the lack of judgment in the US policy of propping up Europe militarily when Europe seems to have little desire to accept responsibility itself for its own defense.
When, in March, Obama said, “building this international coalition has been so important,” he meant merely that a minority of the members of a 62-year-old alliance would seriously participate. Eight of NATO’s 28 members are attacking Gaddafi’s ground forces.
Obama, a novel kind of commander in chief, explained in passive syntax that, “it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions.” These “others” would rather finance their welfare states than their militaries, so they cannot wage war for 10 weeks without U.S. munitions and other assets.
Last month, this column noted that NATO was created in 1949 to protect Western Europe from the Soviet army; it could long ago have unfurled the “Mission Accomplished” banner; it has now become an instrument of mischief, and when the Libyan misadventure is finished, America should debate whether NATO also should be finished. …
… Hence Gates warned that “there will be dwindling appetite and patience in” America for expending “increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.” Already, U.S. officers in Afghanistan sometimes refer to the NATO command there — officially, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) — as “I Saw Americans Fighting.”While there may be some legitimate reasons to have a strategic presence in various parts of the world to protect American interests or to assist allies, or forward defence, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the US is being left to look after the security of the entire free world. While Britain has shown a willingness to assist, albeit on a much-reduced scale, it seems that Continental Europe is happy to leave it to stupid while they spend on welfare, bread and circuses rather than its own security.
The Libyan action is illogical in any case, even for Europe to be involved in. While the whole world was concerned about the real probability of a massacre by Guddafi’s forces, the intervention was launched when the Arab League called for it. This creates the ridiculous situation where the regional powers, some of which are among the wealthiest and best armed in the world, are able to be onlookers while someone else goes to the aid of their fellow Arabs.
In any case there is little benefit to be had by the US in supporting over a hundred thousand troops and masses of expensive equipment for the defense of Europeans, an action that appears to be counterproductive. Rather than use the US willingness to help hold back the threat of invasion by the USSR to rebuild their defensive capability, European countries have wound back their capability while using the resources thus freed to engage in an orgy of welfarism resulting in them being not worth the effort.
It is probably time for the US to give Europe a few years to get its act together, and then pull out.