The Obama administration has been celebrating its grand victory in Libya, but I keep wondering: why couldn't Europe deal with a tinpot dictator a short boat-ride away? After all, the Europeans have a collective GDP and population greater than our own.
The problem, of course, is that they can't be bothered to spend much money on their own defense. Reported the Wall Street Journal:
"The fact is that Europe couldn't have done this on its own," said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in an interview last month, citing essential U.S. intelligence support. "The lack of defense investments in Europe will make it increasingly difficult for Europe to take on responsibility for international crisis management beyond Europe's borders."
In Libya, some 250 aircraft from more than a dozen NATO nations have been flying roughly 150 sorties a day. That's far fewer than the 800 sorties a day flown during NATO's campaign in Kosovo in 1999, which used 1,200 aircraft. In a speech in Brussels in June, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates decried the difficulties of European allies handling even those limited numbers.
While all 28 NATO nations approved the Libya mission, fewer than half are participating, and fewer still are conducting airstrikes. "Frankly, many of those allies sitting on the sidelines do so not because they do not want to participate, but simply because they can't," said Mr. Gates, who stepped down in July. "The military capabilities simply aren't there."
Of course, there's no reason for the Europeans to do more as long as Washington will do it for them. When will American policymakers stop making American taxpayers patsies for the world?