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The Wrong German Foreign Policy

BERLIN – German chancellor Angela Merkel likes to navigate politically by line of sight – and a very short line of sight at that. But when fog clouds your visibility, you’re not an instinctive driver (as seems to be the case here), and you have misplaced your eyeglasses, you place not only yourself at peril, but others as well.

That scenario sums up Germany’s foreign policy on Libya. The ensuing damage for Germany and its international standing is plain to see: never has Germany been more isolated. The country has lost its credibility with the United Nations and in the Middle East; its claim to a permanent seat on the Security Council has just been trashed for good; and one really must fear the worst for Europe.

UN Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized the current mission to protect Libyans, had the explicit or tacit agreement of the Security Council’s five veto-wielding powers. It also had the backing of a majority of the Council, the support of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and the open military participation of two Arab states. So what more did the German government need to endorse the intervention?

What use is vocal multilateralism, what use are German leaders’ lofty speeches about international law being exercised by the Security Council, if Germany refuses to endorse a resolution for the protection of Libya’s citizens from a brutal regime employing all means at its disposal in its fight for survival? Nothing. Empty talk. And that will not be forgotten in the region, in the UN, or among Germany’s friends.