Dutch warn of heated NATO debate as Libya drags on | Pakistan Today

Dutch warn of heated NATO debate as Libya drags on

The Dutch defence minister warned on Wednesday against “mission creep” in Libya and forecast heated debate in NATO about the future of its military campaign there if it was not over by the end of September.
Hans Hillen called NATO allies who had thought bombing would force Muammar Gaddafi to step down “naive” and said a political solution was needed, underscoring deep divisions in the alliance about a campaign of air strikes launched in March.
“I hope we will be finished by the end of September,” Hillen told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Brussels, when asked about NATO’s decision to extend its mission by another 90 days from Wednesday. “If it’s not finished by then, I think the debate will get higher and higher — ‘why didn’t we finish until now’, and ‘what is the problem exactly’, and ‘why does everybody say give us three more weeks, three more months?’”
“And then in November they say, ‘well, just a couple of months’ — that’s mission creep.” Hillen said NATO’s mission should be confined to its U.N. mandate to protect civilians.
“If it changes into driving out a dictator, then the question is whether NATO should accept this as a new task.” Hillen responded to a call this month by outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates for the Netherlands and other NATO allies who are not talking part in the bombing campaign to do more in Libya, saying it was “contributing fairly”. It was already providing a minesweeper for the naval operation and air-to-air refuelling for the air operation, he said, adding: “We were not the ones who pushed it — the bombings.”
“NAIVE”: Hillen said some allies had underestimated the task. “Libya is a very, very big country indeed. People who thought that merely by throwing some bombs it would not only help the people, but also convince Gaddafi that he could step down or alter his policy were a little bit naive,” he said. “Libya is too big and all the military goals too big … The solution should be a political solution and the military only helps to achieve this and the question is: ‘how long will you push on the military side if the political one doesn’t move?’”

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