Sarkozy dismisses US complaints about NATO, Libya
Nicholas Sarkozy does not agree with outgoing defense secretary Robert Gates who heavily criticized NATO's efforts in Libya and worried about the future of the alliance because of alliance members cutting defense budgets.
Sarkozy said that France and Britain were the main contributors to the effort to bring an end to Moammar Gaddafi's rule, and he vowed to keep up the pressure so long as Gaddafi remains. He also condemned the notion that the future of NATO was in doubt because of European reluctance to devote resources to their militaries, something retiring Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates suggested in a speech this month.
"I'm not of the opinion that the bulk of the work in Libya is being done by our American friends," Sarkozy said in remarks to reporters at a European Union summit in Brussels. "We must continue until Mr. Gaddafi leaves."
As for Gates, Sarkozy said, his comments about European military might -- or lack thereof -- were "unfair," stemming from "a bit of bitterness."
Questions over the future of the Libyan mission reached new heights this week, as the bombing campaign stretches into its fourth month with no immediate end in sight for Gaddafi. An errant missile strike this week that apparently hit a residence in Tripoli, killing civilians, has further put political pressure on the mission. Italy's foreign minister, Franco Frattini, called Wednesday for an immediate halt to hostilities to allow for humanitarian aid to reach the country.
When the vast majority of NATO nations are sitting on the sidelines in both Libya and Afghanistan as far as combat is concerned, you have to wonder where Sarkozy is getting his information. Despite a ban on combat missions - for the most part - the US is still flying the majority of sorties in Libya, albeit to refuel NATO aircraft and police the no fly zone, while using Predator drones to attack government positions. The US is also supplying much of the ordinance since France and Great Britain have exhausted their supply of smart bombs.
Sarkozy's France may be the only one left in Libya doing the fighting at this rate.