NATO Weary of Nation-Building, Occupation in Libya

NATO's leadership says any post-Gadhafi mission should be handled by the UN

After over a decade of NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, the top levels of America’s European military alliance are eager to end the Libyan war and to avoid nation-building responsibilities.

“We must end this Libyan business quickly,” one senior military officer told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. “We just cannot afford this proliferation of missions which just drag on and on. One needs to finally end.”

Facing drained resources from the violent quagmire in Afghanistan and potential defense budget cuts as a result of struggling economies, even NATO’s top military brass are weary of empire building in Libya. Many have been arguing for a United Nations peacekeeping force to take over now that Muammar Gadhafi has been ousted.

Even NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who usually praises NATO’s commitment to interventionism and nation-building, has made clear that any follow-up mission in Libya must be dealt with by the UN.

And the UN just may take that responsibility. A newly proposed resolution would establish a United Nations Support Mission in Libya for at least three months, assist the Transitional National Council, unfreeze assets of two major oil companies, and lift a ban on flights by Libyan aircraft.

NATO’s leadership remains enthusiastic about finishing their mission in Afghanistan, but early hints of war weariness are developing there too as the insurgency remains as strong as ever, violence is marking record highs, and the Taliban look to be gaining ground.

As was seen in Libya, NATO’s military backbone lies with the United States, as even a so-called “backseat” to Libya operations has meant a primarily US-led war. And it is apparently so too with the preference for occupation and nation-building, as the commitment and capability for long-term conflicts apparently requires American willingness too.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.