2011/03/19

On the German stance towards Libya

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The UNSC resolution on the situation in Libya has become surprisingly far-reaching:
* embargo
* no fly zone
* asset freeze
* permission to protect Libyan civilians with military action
but no occupation allowed.

The full text is here and here is additionally a list on which UNSC member voted for it or abstained.

The Council then adopted resolution 1973 (2011) by a vote of 10 in favour to none against, with 5 abstentions (Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russian Federation).

This has yielded some harsh criticism and some support by German newspaper comments.

The harsh critique suggests that Germany should have voted with the Western powers in favour of the resolution. German minister of foreign affairs Westerwelle had promised that Germany was ready for accepting responsibilities in the UNSC and supposedly failed to do the same now.

This attitude is not supportable in my opinion.

The point of being a member in the UNSC is not to vote like a group of other members all the time. "Responsibility" does not equal slavish support of Western powers as during the Cold War, but independent thought and consideration. The chancellor and vice chancellor (= minister of foreign affairs) seem to have arrived at a different, more dovish, conclusion than France, UK and the US. They voted together with China and Russia as comments pointed out, but they also voted together with Brazil and India.

This wasn't a UNSC vote with self-evident result. There was no self-evident reaction to a clear aggression as in 1990, for example. The whole vote was very much a matter for consideration.

Some comments supposed that abstaining from this vote will hurt us politically, but I actually expect the opposite. Whom do you offer better trade-offs in negotiations? The party which always supports you or the party which makes up its mind independently?


The Bundeswehr will not participate in the Libyan affair other than with a few personnel on-board of AWACS AEW&C aircraft, which are joint NATO aircraft with mixed crews, registered in Luxembourg.
I read somewhere that Germany might at most support indirectly by relieving NATO a bit in Afghanistan, which makes no sense (since other forces are required and there are enough forces available) unless it's a backdoor approach for getting the parliament's support for a raise of the force limit in AFG.

The German air force will not be missed much over Libya. It has Typhoon fighters, modernised Tornado IDS attack aircraft and Tornado ECR Wild Weasels (capable of suppressing enemy air defences), but none of their capabilities are really in short supply in NATO. 
Libyan loyalists are, after all, just another almost defenceless punching ball for the West, not a near-peer opponent.

The conservative-liberal government has coincidentally done something that I can support. It happens sometimes.

S O
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5 comments:

  1. I'm astonished at Germany . A country with 80 million people , a rich economy and a member of Nato sits on there hands while the Lybian people are at the merck of a creature that no better in nature than Hitler.
    I just purchased a new Volkswagen ( made in Germany ) If i had know what the GERMAN government was going to do I would have purchased Japanese in deference to the current suffering of the Japaneses people .

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  2. The whole world done nothing about this dictator for four decades. Japan does nothing about it either.

    A small civil war is not something you need to get involved with - usually people advise the opposite, to stay away from the mess.

    There's sometimes a landslide in public opinion that leads to a strangely different view on a specific case, though. It's similar a with the public opinion landslide about stimulus spending which got suddenly fashionable in 2008 after decades of discussing its lack of effectiveness and high costs.


    I don't follow every fashion, neither should my country. This steadiness has served us well at times.

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  3. Post one translates as :
    "I like Germany, I just hate when it doesn't do what I like"

    Sry if we Germans dissapoint you,but no intention of "being obedient" here ever.
    Even if that means you buy a Japanese Volkswagen :)


    Since the 26th february 2011 there is an arms embargo on Libya and it’s territory.

    We also got a UN resolution talking about civilians to be protected...however these civilians seem to be armed and need NO protection since they are not civilians any more.

    2 points:

    1. An embargo is being breached by a warrying party and nothing is done to that party.
    2. The actions in Libya are targeting a warrying party not both...wich does not compute with the whole civilian protection scheme.

    We’re seeing a double standart policy that has as goal not the protection of civilians, but regime change.

    However, Germany’s opt-out has created a rare Franco-German split on foreign affairs.

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  4. "Some comments supposed that abstaining from this vote will hurt us politically, but I actually expect the opposite. Whom do you offer better trade-offs in negotiations? The party which always supports you or the party which makes up its mind independently?"

    It may not hurt you politicaly, I suggest it will, however it will hurt you economicaly.
    RWEs oil interests are all in what could be termed Benghazistan. Bet ya they're handed off to Total, BP and Shell.....

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  5. Those economical interests don't seem to rank highly, for the German government's proposal was an oil embargo.

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