The Corner

What the NATO Deal Means

We don’t know the contours of it yet, but it looks like NATO will provide a unified command structure for future Libya operations and an ad hoc council of allied foreign ministers will provide ‘political guidance.’

Turkey’s primary concern with the Libya intervention — and the reason it withheld support for a NATO command — is to ensure that it stop short of effecting the removal of the Qaddafi regime. Since the Turkish FM says all their demands have been met, it seems safe to say that the Obama administration was not just being cute when it said Qaddafi wasn’t a target. Or if they were leaving that on the table as an explicit strategic goal of intervention, they’d appear to be pretty thoroughly handcuffed now.

I can’t decide whether this is an argument against having let Turkey into NATO or an argument against dragging NATO into things like this. Take your pick.

UPDATE: Or not. As soon as I hit publish I saw this from CNN:

BREAKING-NATO sources telling our Paula Newton and that #Libya agreement could be in jeapardy after last minute Turkish objections

The Turkish objection, according to the Turks themselves, is that France “wants [to] retain autonomous command” outside of NATO in order to continue strikes, and that this undermines NATO command and control. Which yeah, of course it would. It would make NATO command and control redundant.

UPDATE II: Ok, multiple outlets now reporting that NATO has agreed to take over command of Libya ops.

The big ‘but’ from NATO SecGen Rasmussen is that the alliance will only take over no-fly zone enforcement — a mission that has been thoroughly accomplished. Rasmussen says that the coalition will for the time being still be conducting operations to protect civilians from Qaddafi’s ground forces.

“We are right now considering whether we should take on the broader responsibility within the U.N. Security Council resolution,” he just told Wolf Blitzer.

Rasmussen says a decision on whether NATO will take up operations against units on the ground could be made “in coming days.”

Turkey seems to be the problem.

UPDATE III: More info, NATO is floating a proposal they’re calling “no-fly plus” that would give NATO the mandate to attack ground targets with the aim of protecting civilians. But, all 28 NATO members would have to agree on rules of engagement and any country could pull out if they disagree with targeting etc.

Oh, there will also be two separate commands operating in the air above Libya. This looks like a mess.

Daniel Foster — Daniel Foster is a former news editor of National Review Online.

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