After four days of contentious negotiations, NATO finally agreed to take control of enforcing the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over Libya. The handover of command is a win for the Obama administration, which is eager to give up its lead role, but the scope of the deal is still unclear: NATO will still not lead the bombing of Moammar Gadhafi's ground forces, for example. Can Europe do the job without the U.S. calling the shots?
NATO is ready to lead: Obama was reluctant to deploy "America's firepower behind French and British efforts" to protect Libyan civilians from Gadhafi's bloodlust, says The Toronto Star in an editorial. But "having done the right thing, he can now safely hand off to close allies." NATO had to "paper over some internal disputes" to get this far, and "keeping NATO firmly in the driver’s seat is the only sensible way forward."
"Libya crisis: NATO's tricky task"
No, this is a "disaster in the making": The fractures within NATO are "too vast to simply be papered over," says Rick Moran in FrontPage. And even if "by some slick diplomacy and impressive legerdemain" the Obama team can seduce NATO into taking control of the entire military mission in Libya, a "fractured" command council that can't agree on an endgame is a "nightmarish" mess that's likely to end in a confused stalemate.
"Confusion and conflict on Libya"
It's time for Europe to step up: Handing off mission command is partly about Obama "shrinking from leadership," but in this case, "it probably makes sense," says The Economist. Having an attack on a Muslim country "look less American" is a plus, and "it will force the Europeans to be responsible for a cause they championed." NATO is clearly capable of taking operational control. It's up to them to finish what they started.
"Where will it end?"