I’ve suggested that one of the main characteristics of the bureaucratic state is that no one ever has to take responsibility for anything. In fact, decisions made on the basis of someone assuming responsibility are generally regarded as suspect and are to be avoided at all costs.
It looks like we may be fighting for some Libyan civilians – apparently we’re not fighting against anyone in particular (I have no idea how this is supposed to work, but it’s a wonderful example of bureaucrat logic, someone in the State Department should get a nice bonus) – in a quintessentially bureaucratic way. From the FT:
France has resisted making the mission a Nato one, citing fears it would alienate Arab countries, while US and UK diplomats say the alliance is the obvious choice to manage the multinational coalition.
The emerging deal would use Nato assets for command and control but not flag the mission as a Nato one.
In other words, the structure is designed to ensure that no one is actually in charge. Clearly this is a recipe for disaster.
Mr Juppé said he was proposing that a “political steering body” of foreign ministers of countries participating in the coalition and the Arab League should meet in the next few days in Brussels, London or Paris, and meet regularly.
This is the process that we use to write international agreements. The process is perfect for making incredibly bland decisions over incredibly long periods of time. They usually serve good food at the meetings though.
Adm William Fallon, a former head of US central command, told the Financial Times that the problem was primarily a political rather than a military one, since the US and its allies had already shattered Col Gaddafi’s air defences and helped protect Benghazi.
The problem is indeed political. I would now guess that we’ll be in Libya for a long time.
The Daily Mail adds more color:
Deep divisions between allied forces currently bombing Libya worsened today as the German military announced it was pulling forces out of NATO over continued disagreement on who will lead the campaign.
A German military spokesman said it was recalling two frigates and AWACS surveillance plane crews from the Mediterranean, after fears they would be drawn into the conflict if NATO takes over control from the U.S.
The infighting comes as a heated meeting of NATO ambassadors yesterday failed to resolve whether the 28-nation alliance should run the operation to enforce a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone, diplomats said.
Someone should tell the Germans that the steering committee is in charge. Can you imagine telling a real German that a steering committee was running the war?