Fifteen years ago the EU resolved to equip itself with the capacity for collective crisis-management operations, particularly in its own backyard. But almost always the union has contented itself with coming in behind once the situation has been stabilized by someone else. In Mali, as in Libya, Brussels has once again fumbled the chance to draw on its collective defense capacities to play a leading role.

Missing in Action Again: The European Union and Mali

By , , Briefing

Last week, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta came to Europe to say “goodbye and good luck.” The U.S. is switching its strategic focus to the Pacific; in the future, Europeans will have to do more fending for themselves.

The coincidental eruption of the Mali crisis underlined Panetta’s point. The U.S. found itself legally precluded from intervening because of the overthrow of the democratic government by the Malian army in March. So in this North African crisis, the U.S. would not even “lead from behind” as it had in Libya. Any intervention in Mali was strictly up to the Europeans. ...

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