The situation in Libya continues to heat up, with journalists salivating over America’s “next war.” The North African country is, of course, a security threat for Europe. This highlights the fact that European governments have slashed their defense budgets for decades, relying on the protective umbrella of NATO (read: America) to fight off terrorists, Russians, or anyone else who could threaten their fragile socialist economies. Europe has a problem. We could call this affliction “no-balls syndrome.”
Upon sitting down for dinner with a retired special operations sergeant major, he related a frustrating story to me. The sergeant major and his indig troops were preparing to go out on an operation in Afghanistan with Denmark’s Jaeger Corps. As a unit, the Jaeger Corps is among the best, most highly trained and professional soldiers in the world. As the troops were waiting to board the helicopters that would take them to the objective, the Jaeger Corps ground force commander received a phone call. It was a member of the Danish Parliament, scolding the military officer for not making him aware of the mission and telling him that the Danish special operations soldiers could not launch.
The extreme political sensitivity to anything military in Europe (and Australia, for that matter) goes back to the continent’s tenuous relationship with standing armies, historical conflicts, and the fact that Europeans have these shaky coalition governments that can’t get anything done. How will this shape up for Libya? The Europeans will ignore the problem as long as they possibly can, hoping that Americans will come and solve it for them.