Canadian military, diplomatic goals in Libya don't match up
At the same time, there are increasing signs of a NATO draw-down occurring.
The Canadian military and NATO are pursuing a Libyan end-game more advanced than the "political settlement" Canada is pushing for diplomatically, which critics say is undermining the pursuit of political goals more in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. At the same time, there are increasing signs of a draw-down in Western military forces in the region—and Canada may not be far behind its allies.
Some critics argue that having the much stricter military goals undermines the pursuit of the softer political goals. For example, the second Berlin goal, which requires Mr. Gaddafi's troops to return to bases but makes no mention of what rebel forces should do, goes beyond the UN resolution and effectively becomes a condition for unilateral surrender, said Walter Dorn, an associate professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and the Canadian Forces College.
He said this might be putting the cart before the horse, considering that a ceasefire would presumably be needed before further actions to draw down conflict could be taken. "If you want to start a peace process, what demands do we make of Gaddafi at this point? The killing must stop, for me that's the first thing," he said.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said if Canada intended to follow the original thrust of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine in Libya, which many say was top of mind when the UN resolutions were drafted, then a ceasefire and a negotiated resolution must be pursued above all other goals, since that is what the original authors of R2P called for.
"When you're rejecting a ceasefire because it doesn't meet every goal, you're making a mistake in the peace process," she said.
In late June, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called for a ceasefire to allow political negotiation to begin and humanitarian aid to flow. His comments were a significant break from other NATO officials who immediately rejected them saying any pause would allow Mr. Gaddafi to regroup. The Italian foreign ministry later clarified that he was only exploring options.
Minister-Counsellor Nicola Lener of the Italian Embassy in Ottawa said the political objectives are always there and have been a priority for every country involved in the Libyan conflict. But he pointed to both parliaments in Canada and Italy approving what he said were "very clear" resolutions authorizing the use of force.
'Streamlining' in effect
During his testimony, Maj.-Gen. Vance described the situation on the ground as "static." The general admitted that the military is nowhere near accomplishing the Berlin goals.
He said while Mr. Gaddafi's troops are holding a "largely defensive posture," holding ground in urban areas and managing stable financial resources, the rebels have had difficulty co-ordinating their troops and suffer a "lack of staff training" as well as problems with command and control.
Mr. Vance also said NATO was nowhere close to accomplishing the second Berlin goal, to have Mr. Gaddafi's troops to return to base.
He would say only in general terms that "NATO actions have increased survivability and effectiveness of anti-Gaddafi forces, pressuring Gaddafi's forces to withdraw."
NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar said since the military's plan of attack has been unsuccessful, the time had come to pull Canadian Forces from the region, or risk becoming mired in conflict indefinitely.
"There's been success in ensuring that the civilian population is protected, but we do not want to be in a conflict that is ongoing and no end-date," he said to reporters after the committee meeting.
The NDP accepted the Canadian military enforcing the UN resolution's element of protecting civilians in Libya, he added, but that the resolution also called for a ceasefire and a political settlement, and "that's the part that we need to hear a bit more on from Canada."
In recent weeks it appears there has been a pullback of military forces in the region, such as France withdrawing its aircraft carrier on Aug. 4, and a drawdown of the harsher language that had pervaded world leaders' statements on Mr. Gaddafi. For example, British Defence Secretary Liam Fox admitted that the war in its current form is unwinnable.
Canada also announced on Aug. 7 that its military task forces in Italy would be combined, resulting in a "more streamlined structure." Department of National Defence officials say the streamlining isn't resulting in any drop in staffing levels.
surveyed rejected the idea of a drawdown.
"This is an operation that is very important for us to complete," said UK High Commissioner Andrew Pocock. "This is in incremental process, and it's impossible to say precisely when it will finish, and when Col. Gaddafi will decide the time has come to go, and to allow his people to make their own decisions. But seen from where we sit, time is not on the side of Gaddafi."
The French Embassy in Ottawa also rejected the notion that there had been a de-escalation of Western military power, given that the NATO operation had been extended over the summer, and that operations had been "conducted at a steady pace with approximately 140 sorties a day."
Canadian military, diplomatic goals in Libya don't match up | Embassy - Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper (external - login to view)
Last edited by mentalfloss; Aug 10th, 2011 at 03:06 PM..