News / Africa

Can NATO Sustain Future Operations like Libya?

An F-16 jet fighter bound for Libya takes off from a NATO airbase in Aviano, Italy, March 20, 2011. (file photo)
An F-16 jet fighter bound for Libya takes off from a NATO airbase in Aviano, Italy, March 20, 2011. (file photo)

Anti-Gadhafi forces now control most of Libya, thanks to help from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Some question, though, whether  the Western alliance can sustain similar operations in the future.

For six months, NATO warplanes have been attacking forces loyal to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. Analysts say the alliance in essence became the air force of the anti-Gadhafi fighters who, at the outset of the war, were on the verge of defeat but now control most of Libya.

Paul Rogers, professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University in Britain, said he is not surprised at the length of the war.

“If anything is a surprise, it is the speed with which it has suddenly come to an end. There have been pretty clear signals in the last four to six weeks that the regime has become more and more isolated and really coming toward the end," he said. "But I would have to say that by the end of the first two or three weeks of the war, I’d expected it to last right through the summer and maybe right through into Christmas. So in that respect, I, like some other analysts, were wrong.”

Many analysts are asking once this NATO mission is completed, can the Western alliance sustain similar operations in the future?

Charles Ries, a NATO expert and former U.S. ambassador to Greece, said it can.

“In an environment in which the United States is pulling its forces out of Iraq and moving towards reductions in Afghanistan, which will likely be matched by other NATO member countries, and the wind down of this [Libyan] enterprise in NATO - after a period of refit, maintenance and so forth, NATO should be ready to meet other challenges it might face,” said Ries.

But Sean Kay, a NATO expert at Ohio Wesleyan University, disagrees.
“Maybe too much has been expected from NATO and it may well be time to start to think about how to bring it back into a more sort of defensive posture, rather than taking on these out-of-area missions,” he said.

Kay said in the United States, there is a war weariness. He said for the first time in NATO’s history, the United States has relinquished the operational lead to the Europeans. And that, said Kay, could be the way of the future - if NATO decides to engage in other military ventures.

“After the Cold War, after World War II, Europe has to be able to take responsibility for at least its own backyard in terms of these kinds of operations," said Kay. "And I think there is going to be more and more pressure on them to figure out ways to better coalesce their defense cooperation, so the United States does not have to be leading it all in these kinds of things because the United States has global responsibilities and just can’t be there for every single crisis like this that happens.”

But Kay said European members of NATO face major economic problems that will affect defense budgets.

“America keeps saying Europe has to spend more and has to have more capabilities to do these things - but Europe is in a massive debt crisis, which is the real security threat to that entire region. The entire euro zone is potentially going to unravel. And so here we are, saying they should spend more on defense,” he said.

Analysts also point out, however, that the U.S. defense budget will be cut in the years ahead, which inevitably also will affect NATO’s capacity to engage in future military operations.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs