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Posts Tagged: Libya

 
Europe doesn’t have the firepower
15 June 2011 LIBÉRATION PARIS
By Bernard Guetta 
It was an American who spilled the beans. The reason why a majority of European countries are not participating in air support operations for the Libyan uprising is not because they disagree in principle with this strategy, but as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently pointed out, because their military budgets are too limited.
What the boss of the Pentagon said was true, but it was not the whole truth. Not only do many EU countries lack any real military capacity — they have relied on America since the beginning of the Cold War, and the disappearance of the Soviet threat has only led them to further reduce their military spending — but even the major European powers, even Paris and London, have only a very limited capacity to project military force.
France and Great Britain have the firepower to take charge of the Libyan operation, but as they are already committed elsewhere, and in particular in Afghanistan, they are hampered by dwindling stocks of munitions and a lack of men and equipment at a time when these problems will certainly be made worse by budgetary difficulties.
No doubt this news is likely to solicit a chorus of approval from those Europeans who believe that their countries have no business being involved in Kabul, Misrata or Abidjan. But if we look beyond the debate on the legitimacy of these military campaigns, it is clear that any power that deprives itself of military means is condemned to accept that it will have no political existence.
The United States is no longer willing to fund European defence
To be heard and carry weight in the international arena, it must have the necessary capacity to take action or react to events, and there are two reasons why this is particularly true for the European Union at the start of the 21st century.
The first of these is that even those Europeans who believed that military dependence on the United States was the best means of guaranteeing cohesion among the western powers were obliged to revise their position when the Americans did not lift a finger to provide support for Georgia in its conflict with Russia. In August 2008, the most Atlanticist Europeans suddenly discovered that America was prepared to prioritise the stabilisation of its relations with Moscow over one of its most faithful European allies and assert its own interest to the detriment of a solidarity that Europe had believed to be unshakable.
As a result, even Poland embraced the idea of a common European foreign and defence policy and this development was all the more timely inasmuch as it was immediately followed by the crash on Wall Street. Having already decided that it was not going to allow a minor European conflict to undermine its international interests, America was obliged to inject so much public money into measures to rescue its economy that even the Pentagon had to participate in the drive to shore up federal finances.
The United States is no longer willing to fund European defence, and there is hardly any reason to expect that this will change anytime soon. That was the perfectly explicit sense of Robert Gates’ message, which is already evident in the Americans’ deliberate strategy of leaving Europeans in the front line in Libya. Now that they have been forced to shoulder most of the burden of this operation, European states must be aware that they will have to increase military spending, especially in the context of the Arab Spring and a prolonged period of instability in a region that extends from Rabat to Sana’a.
Austerity likely to create significant political tension virtually everywhere
No one knows what the outcome of the Syrian regime’s bloody excesses will be, but the certainty is that it will have a chain of consequences for the rest of the region, and the same can be said for the fall of Gaddafi, which will herald radical change in the North African political landscape as soon as it happens. All of this is taking place within a stone’s throw of Europe which can not remain indifferent or expect not to be affected.
This is the second reason why European states can no longer ignore the need for spending on defence. However, at a time when budgets have been cut to the bone in most EU countries, and austerity measures, which have become unbearable in Greece, are likely to create significant political tension virtually everywhere, any plan that involves diverting funds from education, health care or municipal spending to the armed forces is simply out of the question. The only way for European states to increase their military capacity is to share resources and develop common programmes.
Great Britain and France have already begun to do this. In spite of its Atlanticism, even Great Britain has understood the need for such a step — and it is one that will also be necessary in fields other than defence. The countries of the EU will have to share resources and push for greater harmonisation of policies in every field. This is the lesson that we should learn from the remarks made by Robert Gates.
Translated from the French by Mark McGovern

Europe doesn’t have the firepower

15 June 2011 LIBÉRATION PARIS

By Bernard Guetta

It was an American who spilled the beans. The reason why a majority of European countries are not participating in air support operations for the Libyan uprising is not because they disagree in principle with this strategy, but as US Defence Secretary Robert Gates recently pointed out, because their military budgets are too limited.

What the boss of the Pentagon said was true, but it was not the whole truth. Not only do many EU countries lack any real military capacity — they have relied on America since the beginning of the Cold War, and the disappearance of the Soviet threat has only led them to further reduce their military spending — but even the major European powers, even Paris and London, have only a very limited capacity to project military force.

France and Great Britain have the firepower to take charge of the Libyan operation, but as they are already committed elsewhere, and in particular in Afghanistan, they are hampered by dwindling stocks of munitions and a lack of men and equipment at a time when these problems will certainly be made worse by budgetary difficulties.

No doubt this news is likely to solicit a chorus of approval from those Europeans who believe that their countries have no business being involved in Kabul, Misrata or Abidjan. But if we look beyond the debate on the legitimacy of these military campaigns, it is clear that any power that deprives itself of military means is condemned to accept that it will have no political existence.

The United States is no longer willing to fund European defence

To be heard and carry weight in the international arena, it must have the necessary capacity to take action or react to events, and there are two reasons why this is particularly true for the European Union at the start of the 21st century.

The first of these is that even those Europeans who believed that military dependence on the United States was the best means of guaranteeing cohesion among the western powers were obliged to revise their position when the Americans did not lift a finger to provide support for Georgia in its conflict with Russia. In August 2008, the most Atlanticist Europeans suddenly discovered that America was prepared to prioritise the stabilisation of its relations with Moscow over one of its most faithful European allies and assert its own interest to the detriment of a solidarity that Europe had believed to be unshakable.

As a result, even Poland embraced the idea of a common European foreign and defence policy and this development was all the more timely inasmuch as it was immediately followed by the crash on Wall Street. Having already decided that it was not going to allow a minor European conflict to undermine its international interests, America was obliged to inject so much public money into measures to rescue its economy that even the Pentagon had to participate in the drive to shore up federal finances.

The United States is no longer willing to fund European defence, and there is hardly any reason to expect that this will change anytime soon. That was the perfectly explicit sense of Robert Gates’ message, which is already evident in the Americans’ deliberate strategy of leaving Europeans in the front line in Libya. Now that they have been forced to shoulder most of the burden of this operation, European states must be aware that they will have to increase military spending, especially in the context of the Arab Spring and a prolonged period of instability in a region that extends from Rabat to Sana’a.

Austerity likely to create significant political tension virtually everywhere

No one knows what the outcome of the Syrian regime’s bloody excesses will be, but the certainty is that it will have a chain of consequences for the rest of the region, and the same can be said for the fall of Gaddafi, which will herald radical change in the North African political landscape as soon as it happens. All of this is taking place within a stone’s throw of Europe which can not remain indifferent or expect not to be affected.

This is the second reason why European states can no longer ignore the need for spending on defence. However, at a time when budgets have been cut to the bone in most EU countries, and austerity measures, which have become unbearable in Greece, are likely to create significant political tension virtually everywhere, any plan that involves diverting funds from education, health care or municipal spending to the armed forces is simply out of the question. The only way for European states to increase their military capacity is to share resources and develop common programmes.

Great Britain and France have already begun to do this. In spite of its Atlanticism, even Great Britain has understood the need for such a step — and it is one that will also be necessary in fields other than defence. The countries of the EU will have to share resources and push for greater harmonisation of policies in every field. This is the lesson that we should learn from the remarks made by Robert Gates.

Translated from the French by Mark McGovern

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8 March 2011

"NATO prepares for armed intervention in Libya," headlines Públicoin the wake of remarks made by US President Barack Obama, who has stated that the alliance is evaluating “military options,” and by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who declared that the “widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population” employed by Gaddafi in his attempt to quell the uprising “may amount to crimes against humanity.” The Madrid daily also notes that the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have asked the UN to establish a no-fly zone over Libya.

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8 March 2011

In response to the violent repression of the popular uprising by Muammar Gaddafi, “Europe freezes Libyan assets”, headlinesCorriere della Seranoting that ”the stakes and investments of the head of state, worth 30 to 40 billion euros in at least five European countries, will be suspended by Brussels”. The measure, taking effect on the morning of March 8, will involve several companies in which Libyan sovereign funds are among the major shareholders, such as ENI, BP and Shell (oil), UniCredit and BNP (banks), Juventus (football) and Vodafone (telecoms). Meanwhile, the influx of refugees from North Africa continues, writes La Stampa: in the last 24 hours more than 1,700 have landed on the island of Lampedusa, whose shelter facilities are on the brink of a crisis.

 
Golden memories
2 March 2011 NEUES DEUTSCHLAND BERLIN
As Colonel Gaddafi’s regime totters, several European leaders, notably Nicolas Sarkozyand Silvio Berlusconi, are finding it difficult to erase the memory of their close ties to the Libyan dictator.

Cartoon by Rainer Hachfeld

 

Golden memories

2 March 2011 NEUES DEUTSCHLAND BERLIN

As Colonel Gaddafi’s regime totters, several European leaders, notably Nicolas Sarkozyand Silvio Berlusconi, are finding it difficult to erase the memory of their close ties to the Libyan dictator.

Cartoon by Rainer Hachfeld

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24 February 2011 FRANKFURTER RUNDSCHAU FRANKFURT What must a North African currently following news from the “European community of shared values” be thinking? It’s not just that the community’s support for the fight for freedom around the Mediterranean has been half-hearted. It’s that it is taking its own members’ violations of the values the community espouses rather calmly. Thorsten Knuf The European Union is of the view that the violence perpetrated by the Libyan security forces against demonstrators should stop and that the regime ought to engage in dialogue with the people. This is the line that EU foreign ministers laid down at the start of this week. Over the last few days the EU Commission has repeated it, and Europe’s chief diplomat Catherine Ashton declared it again in Cairo. Non-violence and dialogue – that’s all to the good. No one wants to be the heckler in the crowd here. After all, everyone is all for stern action against child abuse and for more honesty in politics. Wisdom means making an error just once. The European Union has no such wisdom. In Tunisia and Egypt the union placed its wagers on corrupt despots for far too long, and it will be pinned with that tail of the donkey for a long while to come. Let’s put ourselves back in the armchair of a North African In the case of Libya, the Community has once again fallen flat. It should have initiated sanctions against the Gaddafi clan a long time ago and shown itself capable of coming out openly on the side of the demonstrators. But Italy was standing in the way. Italy needs Libya as its energy supplier and as a bulwark against migrants arriving by boat. Germany at least calls a spade a spade and is saying that Gaddafi has to go, and France too is calling for a tougher line now. Europe’s common foreign policy remains a farce, much like the PhD thesis of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg: towering facades, but nothing behind them. The continent must have grasped by now that it has a structural credibility problem. Morally, the Union comes off rather shabby, persistently failing as it does to uphold its own principles. This is betrayed not only by its response to the liberation movements in North Africa but by the way it deals with scandals in the community itself. Let’s put ourselves back in the armchair of a North African following the news from Europe on the internet or radio. In recent weeks he will have run across stories about a French Foreign Minister by the name of Michèle Alliot-Marie. Until recently the minister was rather comfortable in the company of the deposed dictator of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In January she even offered him the assistance of French security forces to step in against the demonstrators in the streets of Tunis. Madame Alliot-Marie thus has no reputation left to lose. Her president, Nicolas Sarkozy, however, has no intention of firing her. This is deplorable, for France will be key if Europe wants to help bring permanent stability to Tunisia. In some member states democracy is under serious threat Even apart from that, all sorts of other dreadful news from Europe can only nurse doubts in North Africa and elsewhere about the credibility of the old continent. There’s the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, soon to be hauled before the courts for prostitution of minors and abuse of authority, and yet still holding onto his office. And the EU’s response to this? None. At the next summit, the Merkels, Sarkozys and Camerons will cordially embrace their old friend Berlusconi. Just as they will Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who wanted to abolish freedom of the press at home. In the EU Parliament he even won the backing of the European People’s Party for the move. A little over a year ago as the Lisbon Treaty with its reforms to the union came into effect after lengthy wrangling, many believed a new era was on the way in. Europe would be more democratic and better able to exert its power, and foreign policy would be promoted to a bigger league. Today we have to admit that the continent is a long way away from all this. In some member states democracy itself is under serious threat. On the European stage the selfish pettiness rages on unabated. And when it comes to ringing up the fire brigade, the community only thinks of it when it’s actually in flames. That was what happened with the financial crisis and the euro, and it’s what’s happening with the revolutions across the Mediterranean. Europe has systematically corrupted itself. It’s time it noticed. Translated from the German by Anton Baer



Libya’s revolution, Europe’s shame
23 February 2011 EL PAÍS MADRID

Faced with the massacres perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime against its own people, how can the EU content itself with calling for “restraint”, while spending more time worrying about an influx of refugees? Madrid daily El País publishes an indignant editorial.
This is not the Europe needed by the revolutions taking place in Maghreb and the Middle East. To deafening silence and paralysis over the demonstrations that saw out the dictatorships of Ben Ali and Mubarak in Tunisia and Egypt, we can now add the lukewarm response to the slaughter perpetrated by the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. When a tyrant sends in tanks and aircraft against citizens who take to the streets against him, and when the dead pile up in the hundreds, it’s simply shameful to talk about “restraint” in the use of force.
The crimes of recent days are not the first ever committed by Gaddafi, but they have been the most ruthless. Faced with them, Europe has been more concerned about how to keep Libyans imprisoned within their borders than to support those speaking up and risking their lives to battle a tyranny in its twilight.
Europe is committing an unpardonable act
Confronted by this show of barbarism, neither the words of caution in the statementissued by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, nor those coming out of the meeting of the European Council of Ministers last Monday, carry any weight. There should be no claims of having been mistaken: if two countries such as Italy and the Czech Republic could spoil the common position, it was because, among other reasons, the rest of the EU27 was not particularly discomfited by the final result, considering it acceptable. But it is not acceptable, and not from any point of view, not even seen in the light of a timorous “art of the possible”. And that is why the victory of two member states over the others is, in fact, a humiliating defeat for all of them.
While the High Representative and the Council of Ministers were playing out this sad role, the Commission heaped yet more shame on Europe.  Their spokesman for migration, Michel Cercone, expressed the EU’s concerns about the consequences for emigration stemming from the revolts in the Maghreb and the Middle East. If indeed this is the concern of the moment for the union, it means the bureaucracy in Brussels, by force of navel-gazing, has lost the ability to prioritise its problems, and has set on the same plane both the political earthquake that is rumbling through one of the most tormented regions of the world and an obsession that was, at first, the territory of European populist forces, before it was picked up on by mainstream parties willing to do anything for votes.
EU cannot speak in whispers here
But it also means that this Europe at the start of a new century, haunted by its ghosts, has given up distinguishing between a migrant and a refugee. Before a crime as massive as the one being perpetrated by Gaddafi, Europe is committing an unpardonable act of vileness in its musing over the best way to lock up Libyans within their borders, leaving them at the mercy of a ferocious repression. Europe’s real worry, however, should be how best to speed the end of a grotesque and vicious regime and how to save human lives. Communiqués and official statements are failing to shed any light on the matter. Worse yet, while the EU27 still polishes the wooden language of its “common position”, Gaddafi is using mercenaries to crack down on the demonstrators and intensifying the climate of terror by preventing the dead from being taken off from the streets.
In accepting the dogma that dictatorship is a lesser evil than Islamic fanaticism, the historical errors committed by the big powers in the Maghreb and the Middle East have been countless. In fact, dictatorship and Islamic fanaticism are two enemies that have fed off each other and have left millions of people throughout the Arab world trapped in a stranglehold that has choked off any hope for them of liberty and progress. Now that those citizens have spoken up, at the risk of losing their lives, the great powers cannot compound their mistakes with another error of planetary dimensions.
At least, that is, Europe cannot, or should not. For to do so would sanction the ultimate betrayal of the great principles that they wanted to build their union upon. The people who have risen up, who are rising up against their dictatorships, who are demanding freedom and dignity, need from abroad, from the developed and democratic world, the clear message that their claim is legitimate. The EU cannot speak in whispers here or wave the flags of its petty fears.
Translated from the Spanish by Anton Baer

Libya’s revolution, Europe’s shame

23 February 2011 EL PAÍS MADRID

Faced with the massacres perpetrated by the Gaddafi regime against its own people, how can the EU content itself with calling for “restraint”, while spending more time worrying about an influx of refugees? Madrid daily El País publishes an indignant editorial.

This is not the Europe needed by the revolutions taking place in Maghreb and the Middle East. To deafening silence and paralysis over the demonstrations that saw out the dictatorships of Ben Ali and Mubarak in Tunisia and Egypt, we can now add the lukewarm response to the slaughter perpetrated by the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. When a tyrant sends in tanks and aircraft against citizens who take to the streets against him, and when the dead pile up in the hundreds, it’s simply shameful to talk about “restraint” in the use of force.

The crimes of recent days are not the first ever committed by Gaddafi, but they have been the most ruthless. Faced with them, Europe has been more concerned about how to keep Libyans imprisoned within their borders than to support those speaking up and risking their lives to battle a tyranny in its twilight.

Europe is committing an unpardonable act

Confronted by this show of barbarism, neither the words of caution in the statementissued by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, nor those coming out of the meeting of the European Council of Ministers last Monday, carry any weight. There should be no claims of having been mistaken: if two countries such as Italy and the Czech Republic could spoil the common position, it was because, among other reasons, the rest of the EU27 was not particularly discomfited by the final result, considering it acceptable. But it is not acceptable, and not from any point of view, not even seen in the light of a timorous “art of the possible”. And that is why the victory of two member states over the others is, in fact, a humiliating defeat for all of them.

While the High Representative and the Council of Ministers were playing out this sad role, the Commission heaped yet more shame on Europe.  Their spokesman for migration, Michel Cercone, expressed the EU’s concerns about the consequences for emigration stemming from the revolts in the Maghreb and the Middle East. If indeed this is the concern of the moment for the union, it means the bureaucracy in Brussels, by force of navel-gazing, has lost the ability to prioritise its problems, and has set on the same plane both the political earthquake that is rumbling through one of the most tormented regions of the world and an obsession that was, at first, the territory of European populist forces, before it was picked up on by mainstream parties willing to do anything for votes.

EU cannot speak in whispers here

But it also means that this Europe at the start of a new century, haunted by its ghosts, has given up distinguishing between a migrant and a refugee. Before a crime as massive as the one being perpetrated by Gaddafi, Europe is committing an unpardonable act of vileness in its musing over the best way to lock up Libyans within their borders, leaving them at the mercy of a ferocious repression. Europe’s real worry, however, should be how best to speed the end of a grotesque and vicious regime and how to save human lives. Communiqués and official statements are failing to shed any light on the matter. Worse yet, while the EU27 still polishes the wooden language of its “common position”, Gaddafi is using mercenaries to crack down on the demonstrators and intensifying the climate of terror by preventing the dead from being taken off from the streets.

In accepting the dogma that dictatorship is a lesser evil than Islamic fanaticism, the historical errors committed by the big powers in the Maghreb and the Middle East have been countless. In fact, dictatorship and Islamic fanaticism are two enemies that have fed off each other and have left millions of people throughout the Arab world trapped in a stranglehold that has choked off any hope for them of liberty and progress. Now that those citizens have spoken up, at the risk of losing their lives, the great powers cannot compound their mistakes with another error of planetary dimensions.

At least, that is, Europe cannot, or should not. For to do so would sanction the ultimate betrayal of the great principles that they wanted to build their union upon. The people who have risen up, who are rising up against their dictatorships, who are demanding freedom and dignity, need from abroad, from the developed and democratic world, the clear message that their claim is legitimate. The EU cannot speak in whispers here or wave the flags of its petty fears.

Translated from the Spanish by Anton Baer

EU RESTRAINT
 
Catherine Ashton to the Libyans – “Come on, children, quieten down!”
Having been far from proactive during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, the EU and member states seemed unable to hold a firm stance as Colonel Gaddafi continues to massacre his own people.

EU RESTRAINT

Catherine Ashton to the Libyans – “Come on, children, quieten down!”

Having been far from proactive during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, the EU and member states seemed unable to hold a firm stance as Colonel Gaddafi continues to massacre his own people.

YES, THAT IS FORMER UK PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN AND GADDAFI.

YES, THAT IS FORMER UK PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN AND GADDAFI.

Watch Live: Pres Gaddafi Making a Statement

Source: newsflick