I think everyone felt some grim, sad irony in watching Qaddafi’s tiny forces hold off a British-French NATO intervention, revealing the once-vaunted rebels to be mostly a Potemkin force — all as the U.S. outsourced its historic leadership role after less than two weeks. But that schadenfreude should have passed long ago, and at some point the U.S. is going to have to decide whether NATO is still a viable organization and worth saving, now that it is on the verge of being utterly humiliated in Libya.
It was always a predominately U.S.-led alliance, but our engagement kept up appearances and seemed at times to provide the Europeans a measure of unity. No longer: The U.S. is detached, the European NATO members are bickering and squabbling, and no one in Washington can explain to them the mission in Libya, the methodology to achieve it, the ultimate results desired, or the extent of NATO commitment in the postwar aftermath. Meanwhile, NATO member Turkey is an open supporter of Hamas and hostile to most of what NATO is for.
We are on the razor’s edge here, and it is not hard to see the alliance disintegrating — all at a time when the traditional supremacy of the dollar is questioned, the financial reputation of the U.S. is still sinking, the traditional use of affordable energy in America seems by intent to be over — and quite abruptly, unless the Obama administration, in its Libyan misadventure, finally decides to take the proverbial Vienna.