After weeks of debate followed by days of confusion, the international coalition enforcing a no-fly zone in Libya has finally taken shape. Spearheaded by the U.S., the U.K. and France, Operation Odyssey Dawn now also includes Canada, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, all of whom have intervened to stop Col. Moammar Gadhafi from carrying out a threatened massacre against his own citizens. Although the ultimate outcome of the intervention remains uncertain, the Libyan episode has already revealed three important features of contemporary global politics. First is the issue of U.S. leadership and its global responsibilities. After […]
Europe’s leaders are voicing increasing concern that unrest in North Africa and the Middle East will cause a surge of illegal immigration to the continent. And with current European Union laws placing the onus of dealing with immigrants on the country where they land, the possibility of a surge has some more on edge than others. Italy, for instance, says it shouldn’t be left to “bear the brunt of the new arrivals just because it is so close to North Africa,” according to this New York Times story about the country’s present scramble to house people evacuated from Lampedusa, a […]
President Barack Obama’s address explaining the reasons for the U.S. intervention in Libya has already generated a flurry of responses. Some have lauded the speech as setting forth a set of grand strategic principles that will guide the U.S. response to the “Arab Spring.” Others have decried it as lacking sufficient grand strategic vision. In reality, grand strategic principles rarely dictate specific courses of action in complicated situations, and a coherent grand strategy absolves no one from the responsibility of “muddling through.” Even if there is an “Obama doctrine,” it is unclear how that doctrine matters for Libya, or how […]
Clashes are spreading between opposing forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara in Côte d’Ivoire, where tensions have been on the rise since November’s contested election between the two. With the country teetering on the edge of civil war, Ouattara’s party issued a statement this week asserting that all peaceful means to get Gbagbo to recognize defeat have been exhausted. Gbagbo has since offered a ceasefire, which according to the New York Times, “appeared to be a delaying tactic and was ignored by Mr. Ouattara’s forces as they continued their advance from two sides of the country.” Lauren Gelfand, […]
The U.S.-led military intervention in Libya is decidedly different than the ongoing military operations underway in Iraq and Afghanistan in at least one sense: Unlike those wars, which President Barack Obama inherited from his predecessor, Libya is Obama’s war from start to finish. As such, it offers us the first true picture of how this commander-in-chief commands — and how he believes U.S. force should be employed. One thing we have learned is that the president is very much a reluctant warrior, as was evident even before he launched what his press secretary calls a “time-limited, scope-limited” operation. Consider the […]
Troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shelled rebels heading west on the coastal road to Sirte on Tuesday, forcing them to pull back to the small town of Bin Jawad.
Tensions continue to run high in Ivory Coast as forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo patrol the streets of Abobo, Abidjan. Gbagbo is struggling to contain a rebel advance from the north, where forces loyal to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, have reportedly seized several towns.
Like the military intervention in Libya itself, President Barack Obama’s speech last night was probably too little, too late to have a decisive impact on the debate. It offered nothing in the way of a neat doctrine or clear-cut objectives to justify the use of force, meaning that critics are unlikely to be swayed. But in some ways, it was probably more honest than most people were expecting: The decision to intervene was essentially a gut call, long on tactics and short on strategy, whose wisdom will be determined by the outcome on the ground. What the speech did accomplish, […]
Coverage of the Western intervention in Libya has overshadowed the somewhat unprecedented regional intervention that has been going on for the past two weeks in Bahrain. Troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Peninsula Shield Force (PSF) entered Bahrain after a “request by Bahrain for support,” Asharq Alawsat reported on March 15. According to Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, the development marks “a watershed moment: to see this force being used visibly to deal with internal unrest and to see the GCC states openly declare that these forces are being used in this way.” Katulis tells […]
The U.S.-led intervention in Libya is now in full swing, thanks to a 10-0 vote by the U.N. Security Council in favor of authorizing military force. But the seeming unanimity of the vote belies key abstentions from a wary Germany as well as Brazil, Russia, India and China — the four emerging economic powers known as the BRICs. The BRICs’ abstentions raise difficult questions about the future of a rules-based international order at a time of relative U.S. decline. The BRICs’ move seemed to be grounded in their longtime allergy to Western-led military operations. Couched in language of humanitarian concern, […]
Protests are spreading in Syria. In the flashpoint coastal town of Latakia, troops have been deployed after twelve people were killed there over the weekend.
Last week it seemed like even the intervention of U.S., British and French airpower might not be enough to enable the Libyan rebellion to regain the momentum against Libyan government forces. Now it looks like the balance has shifted in the rebels’ favor, if not yet decisively so. For me, as a supporter of the intervention, that makes this week an even better moment than last to emphasize that we should not be judging the wisdom of our involvement based on the latest isolated news accounts from the front, and that it is wildly premature to assess any ultimate outcomes. […]
The uprising in Libya and the subsequent foreign military intervention there are providing a significant test for Turkey’s stated desire to create a foreign policy that combines realism with idealism, while also highlighting the difficulty Ankara is facing in balancing its aspirations to become a more independent regional leader in the Middle East with its efforts to maintain its traditional alliances. Furthermore, the developments in Libya threaten to deepen ongoing tensions between Turkey and NATO as well as some of the alliance’s member countries, in particular France. In recent years, Turkey has set lofty goals for its foreign policy, especially […]
Amid all the criticism of the U.S. and coalition military intervention in Libya, one strain in particular has focused on the role played by France and President Nicolas Sarkozy in leading the charge toward action. In his typically thorough fashion, Art Goldhammer does a great job of explaining both the personal and political factors behind Sarkozy’s zeal. As Goldhammer mentions, there is the thirst for glory, the appetite for risk, the desire to make up for flubbing Tunisia and receiving Gadhafi on a state visit to Paris in December 2007, as well as the potential boost a global leadership role […]
Six people were reportedly killed and dozens more wounded when security forces opened fire on protesters in Syria. Residents say the violence occurred at the Omari mosque in the south city of Deraa, which has been the focal point of a string of small but unprecedented rallies calling for the end of the ruling Assad regime.
A U.S. F-15 jet taking part in the U.N. no-fly zone over Libya crash landed inside the country on Monday. The jet’s crew ejected safely and were later rescued according to statements by military officials, who said the crash was a result of a technical problem.