The purpose of NATO is ...

George Will:

America’s intervention in Libya’s civil war, the most protracted and least surreptitious assassination attempt in history, was supposed to last “days, not weeks,” but is in its fourth month and has revealed NATO to be an increasingly fictitious military organization. Although this war has no discernible connection with U.S. national security, it serves the national interest, in three ways. It is awakening some legislators to their responsibilities. It is refuting the pretense that the United Nations sets meaningful parameters to wars it authorizes — or endorses, which is quite different. And it is igniting a reassessment of NATO, a Potemkin alliance whose primary use these days is perverse: It provides a patina of multilateralism to U.S. military interventions on which Europe is essentially a free rider.
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He also discusses the War Powers Act, which is also a fiction looking for a purpose.

The need for a multilateral patina when we go to war is very liberal, but is is not necessarily "smart diplomacy."  It tends to drag things out until the problem is worse and results in a use of force that is limited in its ability to achieve the objective of the policy.  We are seeing that in Libya where restrictions on the use of force have resulted in an air campaign of limited ability to remove the Qaddafi regime.  With the proper application of a combined arms operation this war would have been over months ago and Qaddafi would be awaiting trial for war crimes if he survived capture.
 

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