In document Ritualized Rhetoric and Historical Memory in German Foreign and Security Policy (Page 120-125)

The Use of Force: Afghanistan


The Arab spring m ovem ents experienced in Tunisia and Egypt eventually reached

Libya, resulting in a full civil w ar on February 17, 2 01 1 w hen th e A rm ed Forces o f the

Libyan Arab Jamahiriya shot at dem onstrators in Benghazi.41 The arm ed conflict, a

conflict betw een the m ilitary and civilian forces th a t supported Colonel M u a m m a r

Gaddafi and opposition forces seeking to o verth ro w th e Gaddafi regim e, spread to

39 "Tabu-Bruch: Guttenberg Spricht Von Krieg in Afghanistan," ibid., April 4, 2010, accessed on O ctober 21, 2013, h ttp ://w w w 6 87235.h tm l.

40 "The W orld from Berlin: 'N ew Evaluation on Afghanistan Long Overdue'," Spiegel Online, February 11, 2010, accessed October 22, 2012, h ttp ://w w w .s p ie g e l.d e /in te rn a tio n a l/g e rm a n y /th e -w o rld -fro m -b e rlin - new-evaluation-on-afghanistan-long-overdue-a-677289.htm l.

41 These arm ed forces w ere comprised o f th e Libyan Navy, Army, Air Force, and th e People's m ilitia. The International Institute for Strategic Studies' annual assessment of global m ilitary capabilities and defense economies estim ated total Libyan arm ed forces personnel to be around 76,000.

Tripoli a fe w days later. This resulted in the establishm ent o f the N ational Transitional

Council, th e de fa c to governm ent o f Libya, fo rm ed in Benghazi by th e opposition to

govern over Libya during the conflict and to m ap o u t th e transition o f th e country. The

council was officially recognized by France in M arch 2011 and view ed as a leg itim ate

body representing th e Libyan people by also holding th e Libyan UN seat during th e

revolution. The initial resolution (1 9 70 ) of th e UN Security Council condem ned th e use

of lethal force by th e Gaddafi regim e against protesters during th e revolution, and

resulted in several sanctions against Gaddafi and his supporters, to include th e freezing

o f international assets and travel bans.42

Gaddafi forces w ere able to counterattack m ilitarily through w estern Libya,

eventually bombing planes and tanks held by opposition forces near Benghazi. A fter

reports of th e brutality exercised by pro-G addafi supporters reached th e international

com m unity, Libya's UN delegation, France, and th e United Kingdom proposed a UN

Security Council resolution to establish a no-fly zone and to authorize m ilitary force in

order to protect civilians in Libya. Further, th e Arab League also directly requested th a t

th e UNSC impose a no-fly zone over Libya. Resolution 1973 was adopted on M arch 17,

2011, w ith a 10-0 affirm ative vote, no oppositions, and five abstentions. W h ile France,

th e United Kingdom, and the U.S. voted for th e resolution, Brazil, China, G erm any, India,

and Russia abstained from th e official vo te. The resolution authorized 'all necessary

42 Resolution 1970 United Nations Security Council, "In Swift, Decisive Action, Security Council Imposes Touch Measures on Libyan Regime, Adopting Resolution 1 970 in W ake o f Crackdown on Protesters," February 17, 2011, accessed October 25, 2013,

measures' and effectively approved th e use o f force in th e Libyan conflict to protect

civilian populated areas under attack by th e Gaddafi regim e.43

During the EU sum m it in Brussels in M arch 2011, which was m arked by

"annoyance", the validity o f th e new ly fo rm ed council in Libya was discussed w ith

several EU states questioning France's instant recognition.44 According to one report,

th e eastern and southeastern Europeans w ere "appalled a t how ruthlessly France and

G reat Britain attem p ted to push through th e ir policies", resulting in th e prevention o f

th e no-fly zone clause for the initial resolution on M arch 11, 2011 45 A fte r th e escalation

of violence and a fter th e Arab League officially requested a m ilitary in terven tio n ,

internal statem ents show th a t G erm any, Russia, and th e U.S. initially questioned th e

problems attributed to th e establishm ent o f a no-fly zone. M o re specifically, U.S.

Defense m inister Robert Gates relayed his skepticism to Thomas de M aiziere during a

m eeting, as it would "require air strikes against Libyan an ti-aircraft b atteries".46 The U.S.

decision to support th e no-fly zone given on M arch 15, 201 1 was influenced through

argum ents brought forth by President O bam a's advisors, UN Am bassador Susan Rice,

and Samantha Power, w ho argued in line w ith th e UN concept of "responsibility to

protect". According to interviews, th e G erm an go vern m en t was not m ade aw are o f this

43 "Security Council Authorizes 'All Necessary Measures' to Protect Civilians in Libya," U N News Centre, March 17, 2011, accessed O ctober 25, 2013,

h ttp ://w w w .u n .o rg /ap p s/n ew s/sto ry.asp ? N ew slD =37808#.U o U lr9JD vTo .

44 Andreas Rinke, "Screbrencia or Afghanistan? W h y G erm any Abstained on the Libya Vote-Tracing th e History of a Decision," IP Journal (2011).

45 Ibid.

changed position and decision, and no a tte m p t was m ade to "explain th e astonishing

turnaround in W ashington" which took G erm an politicians "by surprise".47

W hile th e possibility of a Germ an "no"in th e form o f a veto was dismissed

quickly, Chancellor M erkel's remarks to th e Saarbrucker Zeitung (new spaper) on M arch

17, 2011, outlined Germany's skepticism tow ards m ilitary interventions. The chancellor

stated, "I cannot get us involved in a mission w ith an extrem ely uncertain e n d ".48 A fter

her address a t a plenary session o f th e Bundestag, h eated internal debates ensued

about issues surrounding Germ any's alliances and how th e protection of th e civilian

population could be ensured. It is interesting to n o te th a t some anonym ous interview s

show the conversations and dialogue b etw een de M aiziere and NATO Secretary G eneral

Andreas Fogh Rasmussen, in which Germ any's c o m m itm en t to the alliance was ensured

despite Germ an abstention: G erm any would provide G erm an soldiers fo r th e A irborne

W arning and Control System (AWACS) mission in Afghanistan which left Rasmussen

"satisfied".49 Perhaps, these internal exchanges are to account for th e official

statem ents by German politicians detailing G erm any's ou t o f area mission support a fte r

th e news of Germany's abstention broke.

Resolution 1973, under C hapter VII o f th e United Nations Charter, called fo r a

ceasefire and end to the violence and brutal attacks by th e Gaddafi regim e, im posed a

no-fly zone over Libya, restricted all flights besides hum anitarian aid flights, and

strengthened a previous arms em bargo imposed by th e Security Council. U n d er an allied

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid.

coalition, French m ilitary jets en tered Libyan airspace to enforce and secure th e no-fly

zone imposed by th e resolution on M arch 19, 2011. By August 2011, rebel opposition

forces storm ed Tripoli, eventually taking control o f th e area. The fighting ended in

October 2011 in th e city o f Sirte w h ere Gaddafi was first captured and eventually killed

by rebel forces, resulting in th e official liberation o f Libya on O ctober 23, 2 0 1 1 .50 W h ile

initial reports estim ated th a t 3 0 ,0 0 0 people w ere killed and 50,0 00 w ere w ounded

during th e six m onths of civil w ar, official num bers are not available. These estim ates

w ere eventually reduced by th e National Transitional Council to ab o u t 2 5 ,0 0 0 , and an

unfinished Libyan governm ent reported an even low er estim ate in January 2 01 3 of

4,7 0 0 rebel fighters killed and an o th er 2 ,1 0 0 missing, and no reports o f civilian

casualties.51 The Septem ber 201 2 attack on th e Am erican consulate in Benghazi, which

killed th e American ambassador to Libya and resulted in th e resignation o f th e Am erican

UN ambassador, had severe political repercussions fo r th e U.S. W hile Libyans voted fo r

the first tim e in parliam entary elections in July 2 0 1 2 , th e country rem ains unstable and


50 Thomas Erdbrink and Liz Sly, "Gaddafi's Rule Crumbling as Rebels Enter Heart o f Tripoli," The

Washington Post, August 21, 2011, accessed O ctober 23, 2013,

h ttp://w w w .w /w orld/m iddle-east/libyan-rebels-converging-on- trip o li/ll/0 8 /2 1 /g lQ A b F 3 R U J _ s to ry .h tm l.

51 Ian Black, "Libyan Revolution Casualties Lower Than Expected, Says Ne Governm ent," The Guardian, January 8, 2013, accessed O ctober 25, 2013, h ttp ://w w w .th e g u a rd ia n .c o m /w o rld /1 3 /ja n /0 8 /lib y a n - revolution-casualties-lower-expected-governm ent.

In document Ritualized Rhetoric and Historical Memory in German Foreign and Security Policy (Page 120-125)