Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Clock Is Ticking

If Khaddafi can hang on (and avoid a smart bomb landing within its blast radius), he can run out the clock despite his generally deteriorating situation. The easy NATO win has not happened and the coalition of the barely willing is getting fidgety in the ranks:

The Dutch defense minister warned NATO allies on Wednesday against "mission creep" in Libya and forecast heated debate in the military alliance about the future of its campaign if it was not over by the end of September.

Hans Hillen called NATO allies who had thought bombing would force Muammar Gaddafi to step down "naive" and said a political solution was needed, underscoring deep divisions in the alliance about a campaign of air strikes launched in March.

While images of dead civilians killed by mistake in NATO air operations is surely the most straightforward way of breaking the NATO alliance, Khaddafi could go for the long ball by doing everything he can to trigger a Greek default. Get Europe worried about money issues in a big way and the Libya War will be forgotten.

The French are already saying that their aircraft carrier will have to be withdrawn by the end of the year for maintenance. Up to 40% of the strike missions over Libya have come from this ship, according to the article. There is no other big-deck European carrier to take its place. And Italy, where NATO planes are based to fight the Libyan regime, is already talking about ending the war.

From where will the NATO alliance launch strikes by the end of the year if Khaddafi is still standing? From bases in rebel-held eastern Libya?