john barry 1The seizing of the In Amenas natural gas extraction plant in the sandy wastes of southern Algeria and the subsequent deaths of at least 37 foreign nationals who worked at the plant was, of course, a tragic episode.    It was also a major strategic blunder by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the ragtag gang who overran the facility in mid-January.    Belmokhtar’s declared aim was to halt the French military action which had just begun in Mali --- or at least to deter other nations from joining the French effort.    The outcome was the reverse.   The four-day siege of the plant internationalized the crisis in Mali as nothing else could have done.

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The “liberation of Libya” seems to have brought benefits for most of the participants – the alain-frachonLibyan people as a whole, NATO, President Barack Obama, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron and, very particularly, French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

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On September 19, 2011, Claude-France Arnould, the European Defense Agency’s new Chief Executive, addressed the multiple challenges in bolstering the European Union’s defense capabilities and furthering EU-US defense cooperation at a time of severe budgetary restriction.  She focused particularly on the European Union’s Pooling and Sharing Initiative and the need for increased transatlantic cooperation in order to effectively meet common security challenges and improve defense capabilities.

If and when Gaddafi departs, the violent disorder that gripped Baghdadjohnherbstleomichel
after Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003 risks being replayed in Tripoli and elsewhere. Hence, the international community should be prepared to assist Libya’s Transitional National Council to maintain basic security. But who, precisely, will lead the international community in this effort?

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In Europe, President Obama’s declaration on Afghanistan that the tide of war has turned and that American troops be steadily withdrawn was met with enthusiasm – and no dissent – both from countries that have contributed heavily to the war effort and to those, such as Germany, that have been reluctant partners in the campaign.

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