The joint statement issued Thursday by US President Barack Obama, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Libya not only escalates the war. It also intensifies the political divisions within Europe that are in the background of the neo-colonial operation in North Africa. While the war is marketed as a “humanitarian” enterprise, little if any attention is being paid—at least in public—to the increasingly bitter dispute between France, Britain and the United States on one side and Germany on the other.
The most remarkable feature of the joint statement was that it was not issued by the European Union (EU) or even the NATO military alliance. Rather, it appeared in French and English, under the byline of President Sarkozy of France, Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain, and President Obama of the United States. The statement did not include the byline of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government had earlier abstained on the United Nations resolution authorizing the initial assault on Libya. And yet, this statement vastly expands the war aims of the participating powers—from the defense of civilians to a policy of regime change in Libya. Headlined “The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes,” and published in the Washington Post, theTimes of London, Le Figaro, the International Herald Tribune and al-Hayat, the statement proclaims that “it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with [Colonel Muammar] Gaddafi in power.” It dismisses any other outcome of the conflict as a “betrayal.”
The split between Germany and France is of great significance ...