Is Libya NATO's last hurrah?

The air war is being cheered by Western powers as a major success — though arguably, this won't be the first of many humanitarian interventions, but the last

A man inspects a pro-Gadhafi vehicle bombed by NATO: While Libyan rebels were helped by NATO's air war, some say this will be the alliance's last military intervention.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori)

Though NATO's bombing campaign helped Libyan rebels push Moammar Gadhafi out of power, not everyone views the war as an unmitigated success. South African President Jacob Zuma, for example, says his government is "not happy," charging that the Western alliance essentially hijacked a U.N.-authorized no-fly zone intended to protect civilians, and transformed it into an excuse to topple a sovereign government. Will this be the last time NATO can get away with this kind of military intervention?

Yes. Rising powers are fed up with such meddling: NATO's "conquering heroes" should savor this moment, because it might not come again, says Shashank Joshi in Britain's Telegraph. Rising powers such as China, India, Germany, and Turkey all opposed this adventure, and they are becoming so powerful — economically, diplomatically, and militarily — that the West can't afford to continue stepping on their toes. "Advocates of full-throated humanitarian intervention should not be surprised if Libya is one of its last hurrahs."

"Libya could be the last place where the West is allowed to intervene"

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But NATO must intervene if no one else will: This is the 21st century — humanity can no longer stand by "while dictators butcher their own people," says Uri Avnery at Veterans Today. It would indeed be ideal if countries like China, Russia, and Germany would help. But "we live in an imperfect world and must make do with the instruments we have." And for now, only the U.S. and NATO stand ready, willing, and able to put an end to the "kind of atrocities" that were threatened in Libya.

"Understanding the opposition to NATO's intervention in Libya"

Regardless, NATO can't succeed without the U.S.: This was the first time Europeans took the lead in a NATO mission, with the U.S. taking a backseat, say Laurence Norman and Stephen Fidler at The Wall Street Journal. But even tackling such a small-time foe, so close to Europe's shores, proved impossible without big-time help from America. This dealt a "serious blow" to old European dreams of developing a "military capability independent of the U.S." Europe should get used to riding shotgun.

"NATO strikes show European defense dilemma"

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