Among allies, Germany is the odd man out in UN vote on Libya
Germany sided with Russia and China as it abstained from the UN Security Council vote to take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya. Berlin took the decision that would be most popular at home. Politicians do such things. But Germany's allies certainly notice.
No one was surprised that Russia and China abstained from the United Nations Security Council vote for a no-fly zone in Libya. But Germany?Skip to next paragraph
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Actually, Berlin had been signaling for days that it would not go along, but still. Germany is one of America's closest allies. In this vote, Europe's biggest democracy stood alongside authoritarians and developing nations, not with its freedom-loving partners, Britain, France, and the US.
It had plenty of international cover to vote "yes." The Arab League supported the UN resolution, which is meant to avert a bloodbath in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The European Union also endorsed the resolution.
The German exception was all the more remarkable because of this: Berlin lobbied hard for its two-year seat on the Security Council, which began Jan. 1. It gave the impression that it would be ueber responsible, that this stint was a dry run in a bid for a permanent seat.
"Germany will be a reliable, responsible and engaged partner," said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, about his country's seat on the Security Council. "We will do our part to ensure that the world continues to see the Council as the central body for peace and security in the world."
Muammar Qaddafi has praised Germany for its position. What an embarrassment for a country that sustained one of the colonel's terrorist bombings (his agents blew up the La Belle nightclub in West Berlin in 1986).
So why did Germany abstain? There are several official reasons. It is in the middle of restructuring its defense forces. Adding another mission outside of Afghanistan, where it has the third largest troop presence after the Americans and the British, would stretch it too far.