THE INDISPENSABLE NATION – AT 9:57 P.M. ET: When people refer to the United States as the indispensable nation, pseudo-sophisticates laugh. They might consider ending the laughter. From the Washington Post:
Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time, according to senior NATO and U.S. officials.
The shortage of European munitions, along with the limited number of aircraft available, has raised doubts among some officials about whether the United States can continue to avoid returning to the air campaign if Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi hangs onto power for several more months.
U.S. strike aircraft that participated in the early stage of the operation, before the United States relinquished command to NATO and assumed what President Obama called a “supporting” role, have remained in the theater “on 12-hour standby” with crews “constantly briefed on the current situation,” a NATO official said.
So far, the NATO commander has not requested their deployment. Several U.S. military officials said they anticipated being called back into the fight, although a senior administration official said he expected other countries to announce “in the next few days” that they would contribute aircraft equipped with the laser-guided munitions.
COMMENT: NATO has always been primarily the United States, although we certainly acknowledge the contributions of other nations, especially Britain and Canada. But NATO, as an alliance, may not survive in its current form very much longer. Severe budget cuts in European defense ministries, the lack of a commonly recognized enemy, and a new generation of Europeans indifferent to defense, may combine to make NATO a paper tiger.
The Libyan operation is only weeks old, and already the alliance is running short of equipment. One could only imagine this alliance fighting a real army.
America is the indispensable nation. Somebody tell the president.
April 15, 2011