Two Libya/NATO related headlines caught my eye today:
Libyan air strikes prompt Nato rift with Britain and France (The Guardian)
“Nato must “maintain and intensify” its efforts, foreign secretary William Hague said, while his French counterpart, Alain Juppé, said not enough was being done to combat Gaddafi’s troops. “Nato must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in …“
…Technically, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization operates only in the wake of an attack on a NATO member. The war in Afghanistan followed such an attack and was, in the beginning, widely perceived as a war against a common enemy. Libya is different: There was no attack, there is no common enemy, and now there is no consensus…
MY TAKE: Not only is there little consensus within NATO on what it is doing in Libya, the economic recession has bottled up the alliance’s effectiveness. It is not well known that each NATO member pays for its military operation in NATO missions. The Alliance itself has no funds or military assets to fight wars. In Libya, the UK and France (and whatever other countries have agreed to contribute to the war plan, and only a handful of NATO members have) pay for their military contribution out of their national treasury. As they have been doing in Afghanistan for a decade now. Not long ago the Prime Minister of Poland showed up at NATO headquarters to bemoan the country’s expenses in Afghanistan that total $1bn per year, fully one-tenth of Poland’s entire defense budget.
The United States spent upwards of $600 million in the first week of the Libyan war, now it expects to spend around $40 million over three weeks, at most. So who picks up the slack? Mainly France and Britain. No wonder the two would like other NATO members to step up to the plate.
Here’s an idea. NATO is busy building itself a new billion plus dollar headquarters outside Brussels. Maybe it could shelve the plan, donate the money to all those countries that can’t afford to join in NATO’s war in Libya and help poor France and Britain from going broke fighting…and save the poor American taxpayers from ultimately footing another war bill.