The Libyan Crisis and the European Union as a Major Actor in the World


As an American-Swiss, I usually refrain from making comments about Europe, and certainly about the European Union. The great experiment begun after the Second World War has certainly created peace among the European nations, especially between France and Germany. Even a brief glance at the number of casualties in the two World Wars near Switzerland's border shows the horrific loss of lives. If the European Union has contributed to peace and stability on the Continent so much the better.

However, to talk of the European Union as a major actor on the world stage is very far from a reality. At the same time deep divisions within Europe were shown during the financial crisis, Europe was supposed to be moving forward with a common foreign and security policy. The selection of Lady Ashton to head foreign affairs activities, the beginning of the establishment of a common diplomatic corps were supposed to demonstrate how the customs union was developing into a political reality.

The current crisis in Libya has demonstrated the weakness of European unity. While France and England moved swiftly to push for a United Nations Security Council Resolution for intervention, Germany abstained along with Brazil, China, India and Russia. (It is very difficult to imagine a commonality between the 4 emerging powers and Germany. In addition, Germany's chances for a permanent seat on the Security Council were definitely not improved. Internal politics were primary for Germany, as they probably were for France and England as well.)

Where is a common European position? The President of the European Commission, José Barroso, correctly noted in Geneva last week that Europe is an evolving structure. But, even he had to admit that the lack of cooperation among the European powers in the Libyan crisis is worrying.

I am writing these thoughts from the old town of Dubrovnik in Croatia. It is here that the fighting began which cascaded into the terrible Balkan wars. There is now great hope in the region that membership in the European Union will bring stability and economic prosperity. There have been too many wars, too much bloodshed. Perhaps, just as with France and Germany, the European Union can serve as a "gentle pacifier".

But, my concern for the moment is with Europe as an external political actor. After all, it was the United States and NATO which finally intervened to stop the Balkan bloodshed. And people look to the United States to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel. Where is Tony Blair? Where is Javier Solana? The United States is often criticized for its numerous interventions. I am certain that President Obama and his aides would like nothing better than to have a unified Europe as a partner throughout the world.

March 31, 2011


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  • Are forgetting Surya on purpose as does every body ? Concerning Libya, thing are clear, aren't they ?

    According to reports coalition bombing are killing more opposition member that pro-kadhafi's troupes, isn't it ?

    Now the game is over, kadhafi sent his so call "betrayers" abroad ans what revelations are they going to release sooner or later ?

    All those fellow hand blooded even more than the guide of the "revolution" himself are they signs of a kind of surrendering, those who believes so are donkeys !

    Dear Sir, wait some more days, and you'll encounter the reality in Surya and Lebanon, have you seen the hezbollah map published by IDF, with there 550 underground bunkers throughout Lebanon, around 300 surveillance sites and another 100 or so additional installations built under schools, mosques and under surveillance of UNIFIL ! Sometimes according to some films made by IDF, with the participation of UNIFIL, in this future clash, maps and details are shown before the strikes, so that no one can say blablablabla !

  • Dear Sir,

    Many thanks for your comments. I wrote specifically about Libya and the Eueopean Union and did not mention Lebanon. I still believe a major humanitarian disaster was averted in Benghazi by the intervention.

    Best regards,
    Daniel Warner

  • Coalition airs-forces are shooting rebels as much as pro-kadhafi, it's a total mess, plus some 10'000 refugees are coming every day on Europeans shores.

    But tel-me, when politicians are taking decisions, are they mentally able to do so, because excepted Miss Merkel who is taking right choice in Europe ?

    It looks like there is only one brain functioning in this continent ! All those brainless puppets are incredibly surprising me every minutes of the year, if you start calculating all the wrong decisions made, you need since some decades, hight performances computers !

    Europeans will have to do something, otherwise they encounter drastic clashes, is there a pilot in the plane ?

  • Dear Corto,

    Politics is about bad choices. Indeed, it is often messy. Watching government forces slaughter civilians in Libya would have been worse than the situation now.

  • Dear Daniel,

    Well, if you are convince that there is no slaughter in this right moment, you maybe the most lucky man in this town !

    Have you heard of those miscellaneous "errors" killing as many than pro-kadhafi than rebels from air strikes ?

    Those aircraft bombing the surface of the desert has absolutely no ideas on whom are the targets, US navy pilots are refusing orders from their hierarchy, it went back to white-house officials, and the reports are catastrophic, CIA office are deeply perturbed b the situation on the ground, so US navy will stop all attacks from tomorrow, the Great-Britain will have to follow the groove, and only the obnoxious donkeys may continue striking, just to make an air-show with their unsold jets !

    To my point of view, it is a mess, 5 or 6 countries together to get to a such degree of incompetence, will have to go far way back into history, even Russian are laughing ! What a shame ! ! !

  • Juste one more point, easy to start a battle, but the key is, how to end it !

    Any stupid is able to fight, but coming back home in one piece, it's only for great fighter ! In this game where are they ?

  • Dear Daniel,

    Lets make another comparison, kadhafi / el assad !

    Sarkosy has just delivered 200 missiles Hot to the pro-syrian monster government of Lebanon, it smells corruption as kadhafi said about Sarkosy, lets not forget that the el assad clan, took power of the most developed arab country in the middle-east, and these el assad did this old-up over the richest banks of middle-east with thousand billions transferred to swiss account with total agreement of french government 35 years ago !

  • Dear Corto,

    Rarely in history have we seen a leader bomb his own people such as Qaddafi has done and would have done.

  • Like the French are doing in Abidjan ?

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