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NATO's Strategic Incoherence Costs Libyan Lives

Author: James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair
April 21, 2011


Editor's Note: Dr. James Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations (where he blogs), co-author of "America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy" and a former director for global issues and multilateral affairs at the National Security Council.

Britain, France, and Italy took a step deeper into the Libyan civil war this week by announcing that they will send military advisers to aid the beleaguered rebels. The decision grabbed headlines, but it won't do much to change the course of the fighting.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague justified the decision to send military trainers by saying: “As the scale of the humanitarian crisis has grown, so has urgency of increasing our efforts to defend civilians against attack from Gadhafi forces.”

Washington has applauded its allies' decision, but it is not following suit. The Obama administration is only offering the rebels $25 million in body armor, tents, uniforms, and other nonlethal equipment.

The British, French, and Italian decisions are a tacit admission that the prospects for ousting Muammar Gadhafi have dimmed. The rebels have failed in their effort to retake key Libyan towns. Meanwhile, the situation in Misurata, Libya's third largest city, has grown increasingly grim as pro-Gadhafi forces continue to attack rebel positions.

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