NATO's Canary in the Coal Mine

| Thu Apr. 14, 2011 11:40 PM EDT

Fred Kaplan isn't feeling too much sympathy for all the European leaders complaining that NATO isn't doing enough to assist the rebels in Libya:

Ultimately, the Europeans are sleeping in the beds they made. They've been talking about an independent defense force for a couple decades....Yet they haven't invested the money needed to support their strategic ambitions, knowing they can always fall back on the Americans in a pinch. I don't think this is why Obama is limiting the U.S. mission in Libya, but one effect is that it sends a message: No, you can't, not anymore, not for everything.

Like Fred, I don't think this is why Obama is limiting U.S. involvement either. But it's a useful side effect. Europe has been tap dancing for a long time over whether or not they're really committed to NATO as an actual war fighting alliance, and Libya might force them to finally make up their minds.