A U.S. diplomat recently explained to me why the U.S. went to war in Libya, a country in which the U.S. has no interests at all. The diplomat explained that our war in Libya is because of our war in Afghanistan. We appealed to allies Britain and France to support the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and make it a NATO war. They agreed, and both sent troops to Afghanistan. Britain also sent troops in support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
So when Britain and France, which both have interests, i.e. investments, in Libya, appealed to the U.S. to support the war they proposed against the Libyan government, and make it a NATO war, the U.S. felt obligated to support our allies. And so the U.S. launched the initial attacks on Libyan defenses back in March, and has since been providing extensive logistical support for combat operations continuing in the name of NATO mainly by Britain and France.
The problem is that after 12 weeks of combat operations, Britain, France, and the smaller NATO countries participating in combat operations against Libya are running out of bombs, and feeling the strain of war without end. They are appealing, without any apparent effect, to the non-combatant NATO countries, particularly Germany and Poland which are not participating at all, to do more in support of the NATO war effort in Libya.
Who is the provider and funder of last resort when NATO runs out of resources? Why, the U.S. taxpayer, of course! Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates says that after 12 weeks of war, NATO operations against the Libyan government would collapse without a continuing large infusion of U.S. armaments, since other NATO governments have not invested in weapons sufficient for a protracted war.
NATO’s inability to achieve its objectives in Libya threatens to weaken the alliance and the defenses of all its members, including the United States. Secretary Gates has been openly critical of some NATO members as, “nations apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets.”
Secretary Gates opposed the U.S. attack on Libya, and now warns that, “there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”
Let’s hope that he’s right. Again. Who thinks we should raise the national debt limit in order to borrow more and go further into debt to pay for the war in Iraq, where Americans continue to die, the war in Afghanistan now that Bin Laden has been eliminated, and NATO’s war in Libya?