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Grasping at Straws in Libya

After spurning them on Libya for the last five months, the U.S. has concluded that African Union countries may not be so irrelevant after all:

The US has launched a diplomatic push to win over African leaders who have criticised Nato’s bombing campaign in Libya, in the latest political effort to break Colonel Muammer Gaddafi’s still-resilient regime.

Having dismissed AU opposition to the intervention and its attempts to mediate the conflict because of their ties to Gaddafi, Washington now seems to put too much stock in the influence of other African governments. It would be a welcome development if leading AU governments could persuade Gaddafi to give in, but he has no reason to do so. Essentially, the U.S. and its allies are asking the governments that strongly oppose a policy of regime change in Libya to help facilitate regime change, which is an admission that the U.S. and NATO are making little or no progress in achieving that goal on their own. One gets the impression that the intervening governments are out of ideas. As the FT article notes:

Analysts said that the US was grasping at straws as the campaign against the regime dragged on far longer than expected. “One gets a sense of flailing,” said Mike Singh, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The intervention was poorly conceived and has been haphazard in execution.”

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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