Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Berlin to tell the Europeans that America is really with them in Libya. This is something of a turnabout. In Afghanistan, it's America that's usually begging the Europeans to tell us that they're going to continue to fight rather than bail out. With President Obama moving to limit his commitment to action in Libya, or at least creating the appearance of limiting it, the allies are squabbling with each other.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the recent meeting in Doha, Qatar between NATO, the United Nations, and the African Union didn't really go anywhere. Italy wants to arm the rebels. France and Britain want more airstrikes. But the bottom line appears to be that only America can make anything happen in Libya, and it's not even clear that military intervention, absent the insertion of grounds troops, something that is anathema to Obama, can succeed in ousting Col. Qaddafi and his sons from power. So lots of meetings are taking place, including one by the Arab League in Cairo today.
What this episode may ending up revealing is the fragility of NATO. Oh, NATO can continue as a talking shop. It can hold meetings, issue declarations, and the like. But is there really such a thing as a coherent NATO that can effectively enforce its will or mandate? Libya suggests that national interests continue to predominate. The Libya venture is a Franco-British one. Germany, the strongest economic power on the continent, went AWOL as soon as Operation Odyssey Dawn was announced. As Dr. Theo Sommer observed in the Atlantic Times,
the very name, coined--perhaps unwittingly--by a poetic soul in the Pentagon, suggests a venture with a very uncertain outcome. An odyssey, in Webster's definition is "a series of adventurous journeys, usually marked by many changes of fortune."