Allied planes and warships continued to pummel Moammar Gadhafi's forces with bombs and missiles on Thursday, but the coalition is showing signs of splintering. With President Obama under mounting pressure at home to hand off control of the military campaign, the U.S. and its European partners have stumbled over the question of who will take command. Germany withdrew its contribution, two frigates, out of fear that they could be dragged into a long conflict if NATO takes over. Arab support is faltering. Is the coalition unraveling?
Yes, the bickering could sink the coalition: "The unity of the first hours of the operation seems to have vanished," says Financial Times Deutschland, as quoted in Der Spiegel. The cruise missiles continue to rain down on Gadhafi's army, but allied leaders seem to have "nothing better to do than to argue publicly" about the ultimate goal and who should be in charge. "The political squabbles threaten to jeopardize the operation and undermine its legitimacy."
"Gadhafi is facing a coalition of the unwilling"
No, NATO just needs to step up: "This is a time for the military coalition to come together, not to splinter," says The New York Times in an editorial. It's a shame that the command responsibilities weren't better spelled out back when French President Nicolas Sarkozy was pushing for an intervention. But Sarkozy's attempt to continue calling the shots after the shooting started has "needlessly strained relations with other participating countries." It's time for Sarkozy to devote his energies to getting NATO to "take the lead."
"Discord among allies"
The U.S. should bail out: "Everybody's going all wobbly over Libya," says Thomas E. Ricks at Foreign Policy, but the U.S. should stick to its plan. "We should now say, OK, we have created the conditions, time for you all to have the courage of your convictions." The French and Italians should "park the good ships Charles de Gaulle and Garibaldi off the Libyan coast" and enforce the no-fly zone. And maybe the Arab states could help keep peace in their own back yard. "Step right up, fellas."
"Libya: You want clarity? Here it is"