France Flies, Germany Flops
New York Times
16 April 2011
(…) Only in recent weeks has the distance traveled come into focus: France, reintegrated in 2009 into the command structure of NATO, spearheading the United Nations-backed NATO military operation in Libya; providing armed muscle to the U.N. forces in Ivory Coast; and giving its pacifist-trending ally Germany a lesson in 21st-century Atlanticism.
(…) Here was Germany standing wobbly with Brazil, Russia, India and China — and against its closest allies, France and the United States — in the U.N. vote on Libyan military action. And here was France providing America’s most vigorous NATO support. (…)
In Benghazi, the capital of free Libya, when they see a NATO aircraft they say, “There goes another Sarkozy.” After the French shame of Rwanda, a genocide where Mitterrand let time do its fullest work, that’s something. (…)
Sarkozy has intuited three things. First, the democratization of the Arab world is the most important European strategic challenge of the decade. Second, it was time “to take the training wheels off,” in the words of Constanze Stelzenmüller of the German Marshall Fund, and have Europe rather than an overextended America lead in Libya. Third, the U.N. cannot always be an umbrella that folds when it rains. If its “responsibility to protect” means anything, it must be when an Arab tyrant promises to slaughter his people. (…)
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