28 April 2011

IISS on Europe’s confused response to the war in Libya

In an April 2011  “Strategic Comment”, the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies has a hard-hitting must-read article, War in Libya: Europe’s confused response. It begins:

Although European countries have been prominent in the military operation in Libya, the crisis has exposed sharp disagreements between them. Many of the 26 European members of NATO are not taking part in the operation, while others are contributing to widely differing degrees. As the military conflict moves into what could prove to be a long-running impasse, there is little sign that divisions over how to approach the Libyan uprising are being bridged.  The fragmented European responses to the Libyan war show once again how difficult it is for Europe to forge a common foreign policy and to respond as one to crises through multilateral frameworks. In particular, they have exposed the shortcomings of the defence structures that the European Union (EU) has been painstakingly crafting for two decades. They have shown the emptiness of claims that the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 would make the EU better fitted to take action than it was during the crises of the Balkans.

After an analysis of the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty, diplomatic and institutional factors, and political and military factors, the article concludes:

The Libyan crisis has thus once again opened wide divisions on foreign policy among European countries. It demonstrates that, 20 years after the Balkan conflicts broke out, the EU remains far from ready to assume a role as a regional power. But it also calls into question the unity and functioning of the Atlantic Alliance, which is looking increasingly like a vehicle for the generation of ad-hoc coalitions of the willing.

Read the full piece here.

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