Libyan Lessons

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrapped up his trip abroad with a stop at a naval air station in Sicily. Libya was a key issue of discussion—the base in fact played a central role in NATO operations in the North African country. Panetta said that critics of the Libya operation have now been proved wrong.

The NATO campaign may have been successful in driving out Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, but it had the unintended consequence of causing Russia and China to shy away from action on Syria. Russia for one cited the interpretation of the Libya resolution to protect civilians as cause for worry that a similar resolution on Syria would provide the cover for a military intervention there.

At a news conference, President Obama said that Pakistan has a bad habit of interacting with “unsavory characters who they think might end up regaining power in Afghanistan after coalition forces have left.” He also noted that Washington was constantly reevaluating its relationship with Islamabad

With a new secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, as well as ongoing tensions about the fight against insurgents, U.S. Pakistan policy is set to get a facelift of sorts. The previous chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, had a close relationship with the head of Pakistan’s army, General Ashfaq Kayani. General Martin Dempsey however doesn’t share those close ties, and personal relationships aren’t expected to be a cornerstone of future policy. As former commander of forces in Afghanistan General David Barno put it, “Dempsey and Panetta will represent the new realism with Pakistan.”