Sunday, June 19, 2011

German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière rejects German participation in Libya War

Libyen-Krieg: De Maizière wirft Nato Kurzsichtigkeit vor Spiegel Online 18.06.2011 reports more pragmatically on the Libya War than we normally see in our American press:

Die Nato war mit ihrer Intervention zuletzt kaum vorangekommen. Seit gut drei Monaten bombardieren westliche Truppen nun schon die Stützpunkte des Gaddafi-Regimes. Dennoch kommen die Rebellen, denen die Nato den Rücken stärkt, mit ihrem Versuch, den Machthaber zu stürzen, kaum voran.

Hinzu kommen heftige Streits in der Nato. Europäische Alliierte warnten zuletzt vor Munitionsknappheit. US-Verteidigungsminister Robert Gates kritisierte, dass Amerika einspringen musste. Im eigenen Land steht die US-Regierung wegen hoher Militärausgaben unter Druck.

[NATO hasn't gotten very far with its intervention so far. Western forces have been bombarding key points of the Qaddafi regime for three months now. But then the rebels that NATO is supporting are also not getting very far with their efforts.

Besides that, there are serious conflicts within NATO. European allies warned recently about a shortage of munitions. US Defense Minister Robert Gates complained that America had to step up to provide them. In its own country, the US government is under pressure because of high military outlays.]
The article is mainly about an interview with German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière, in which he criticized the Libya intervention on the record. He criticizes NATO for poorly planning the intervention. He says that NATO requested additional German help in June, and Germany turned it down. He even throws cold water on speculation that Germany might provide peacekeeping forces after the war. The way he phrased that point is almost certainly a dig at the vague nature of NATO's goals and the uncertainties about the intentions of the so-called Free Libya rebels:

"Eine internationale Friedenstruppe ist doch eine hypothetische Sache, die nur nötig ist, wenn Libyen zerfällt und man Streitparteien trennen muss", sagte er. "In einem sich hoffentlich demokratisch entwickelnden Land wäre das weder nötig noch wünschenswert." Er "hoffe, dass es zu einem solchen militärischen Einsatz gar nicht kommt. Weil Libyen hoffentlich vereint bleibt und sich in Richtung Demokratie entwickelt".

["But an international peacekeeping force is just a hypothetical thing that would only be necessary if Libya falls apart and contending parties have to be separated," he said. "In a country that will hopefully develop democratically that would be neither necessary nor desirable." He hopes "that it will just not come to such a military mission. Because Libya will hopefully stay united and develop in the direction of democracy."]
Mark Shields on the PBS Newshour Political Wrap segment for 06/1/2011 also commented in a somewhat broken way, during an otherwise lazy discussion about the Libya War:

JIM LEHRER: Why do you think they made it? Why -- why -- what -- do you have any -- any idea why they didn't just go to Congress before they did this? Or was there -- was it -- it couldn't have been an oversight.

MARK SHIELDS: No, no, it wasn't an oversight.

But I do think that the administration -- I think one thing, that they thought it was going to be -- it was going to be a lot easier going in. I mean, like, I think they thought Libya was going to be an awful lot easier than it has been. They thought it would topple. I mean, this is, what -- now we're up to almost approaching three months, aren't we, on it. [my emphasis]
For good measure, De Maizière also rejected the idea of Germany participating in any military intervention in Syria.

De Maizière's statements are particularly notable because they come after President Obama's very friendly reception of Chancellor Angela Merkel in Washington, despite Washington's unhappiness over Germany's reluctance to endorse or participate in the Libya War. There was speculation Obama had gotten agreement from Merkel to provide more assistance of some kind. But it may be that Wall Street's worries about the consequences of sovereign debt defaults in the EU has the Administration mainly looking to Germany to prevent that. The current German-French-IMF policies are scarcely optimal for that purpose, but they look good to German banks and probably to Wall Street observers, as well.

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