German Policy towards Intervention in Libya

Master's Thesis, 2012

73 Pages, Grade: Distinction (75)



1. Introduction

2. Germany and the use of force
2.1. From 'checkbook diplomacy’ to the intervention in Kosovo
2.2. Increasing contributions and persistent skepticism
2.3. Germany and the use of force in 2011

3. The crisis in Libya and the German response: from early leader to abstention
3.1. Initial German leadership: February 15th to February 26th 2011
3.2. From leader to skeptic: February 26th to March 15th
3.3. Negotiating Resolution 1973 and the German decision to abstain: March 15th to March 17th

4. Explaining non-participation and abstention
4.1. The decision against military participation
4.2. The abstention

5. Domestic reactions and international consequences
5.1. Thedebate in Germany
5.2. International consequences

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

1. Introduction

When Germany joined the United Nations Security Council in January 2011, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle presented a motto that would guide his country through its two-year tenure: “Responsibility, Reliability and Commitment.”1 Less than three months after Germany took its seat, the Security Council confronted a crisis in Libya, where the government of Muammar Gaddafi was violently suppressing protesters, Westerwelle’s motto was put to the test.

On March 17th, 2011, the German Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Wittig lifted his hand to signal Germany’s abstention on Security Council Resolution 1973. By voting to abstain, Wittig formalized the most controversial German foreign policy decision of recent years. The passing of the resolution, and the following NATO intervention in Libya, marked a milestone for the principle of the “Responsibility to Protect.”2 Germany’s close EU allies, France and the United Kingdom, had played a leading role in drafting the resolution and rallying support for it. Yet Germany joined China, Russia, India and Brazil (the 'BRIC’ countries) in abstaining on the resolution. While the abstentions of Russia and China, who could have simply vetoed the resolution, were understood by the international community as a “yes” vote, the German abstention was perceived as a “no”.

The abstention resulted in irritation among Germany’s allies and an unusually heated reaction within Germany itself, causing a rift in almost all major political parties. Depending on the explanations given for the abstention, politicians and commentators have differed in their conclusions concerning what the decision means for the direction of German foreign policy. Interpretations vary from seeing the decision as a result of the particular haste and the specific circumstances of the Libya crisis to concluding that it represents a strategic shift in German foreign policy towards the BRIC countries.

In order to draw conclusions about the meaning of the Libya decision for German foreign policy, it is necessary to thoroughly understand the reasons for the German abstention and the domestic reactions to the Government’s policy. This paper will therefore examine the factors that led Germany to refrain from participating in the NATO mission in Libya and to abstain on Resolution 1973. The paper will also analyze the reactions in the German political arena and the press to the decision.

It will be argued that the German policy towards the Libya intervention was not a strategic repositioning of German foreign policy. The abstention was a result of the very specific circumstances around the Libya intervention and was influenced by various factors, including uncertainty over the military risks involved, the speed in which the resolution was put forward in New York, the late switch in positions of the United States and the personal convictions of the Foreign Minister. While the abstention itself represents a break with German foreign policy traditions, the reluctance to participate in the military intervention itself is in line with these traditions. This was reflected in the public and political debate after the abstention. While most politicians and experts disagreed with the abstention, there was broad agreement that Germany should not participate in the intervention in Libya.

To provide context for the German Libya policy, the first chapter will review relevant literature on Germany and the use of force since 1990. After having laid out this framework, the paper will outline the German policies and actions during the crisis in Libya between mid-February and mid-March 2011 that ultimately ended with the passing of Resolution 1973 and the German abstention. In the fourth chapter, the paper will present and analyze the factors that contributed to the German policy towards the Libya intervention. In the final chapter, the paper will examine the debate and criticism within Germany after the vote, as well as the consequences of the German decision for the country’s relationship with its allies.

There have been a variety of publications on the German government’s decision since March 2011. The most detailed descriptions of the course of the decision-making in the weeks and days before the intervention were published by the journalists Andreas Rinke in 2011 and Lena Greiner in 2012.3 Wolfgang Seibel and Christos Katsioulis belong to those that have examined the Libya decision in academia, placing the decision in context of Germany’s stance on the Responsibility to Protect and broader trends in German foreign and security policy.4 Rinke and Greiner, whose detailed descriptions of the events leading up to the intervention are invaluable, leave open pressing questions as to why the officials whose actions they describe acted the way they did. While Wolfgang Seibel refers to some of the reactions in Parliament, he does not discuss the immediate consequences of the decision to Germany’s role in NATO.

To the knowledge of this author, there is no publication on the German policy towards the intervention in Libya that draws upon as broad a range of sources as this paper. The author conducted 23 interviews with politicians and diplomats involved as well as experts at relevant think tanks and foundations. The author interviewed at least one person in each of the following institutions: the French, British and Bosnian missions to the United Nations; the German Foreign Office, Defense Ministry and Chancellery; the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the parliamentary opposition. Drawing on these interviews, the existing literature of the topic, and a multitude of Government press releases, news sources and parliamentary records, this paper is the most comprehensive examination of the German policy towards the intervention in Libya to date.

2. Germany and the use of force

The German policy towards the Libya intervention provides an interesting case for academics studying German foreign and security policy, because it touches on a tension between a German reticence towards the use of force and the German commitment to multilateralism and reliability as an ally. As will be shown in this chapter, this tension existed ever since the end of the Cold War.

2.1. From ‘checkbook diplomacy’ to the intervention in Kosovo

Due to a number of factors, including the geo-strategic position of Germany during the Cold War, expectations by allies and the German strategic culture after the Second World War, the use of the Bundeswehr for purposes other than territorial defense was not subject to much debate in Germany or abroad.5 Almost immediately after unification, however, with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the intervention against Iraq - authorized by the Security Council in 1991 - a debate on the future of German military force started.6 Despite considerable international pressure, in particular from the United States, Germany did not support the mission militarily but provided substantial financial contributions for which the country earned its reputation for practicing “checkbook diplomacy”.7 Leading German politicians explained that the German Basic Law prohibited the use of the Bundeswehr for anything but defense purposes.8 The refusal to participate was also based on public opinion being against a German participation in the war.9 The debate surrounding the 1990 intervention in Iraq foreshadowed what would become a central tension in all following debates: the restraint of using force abroad, summarized in the slogan “never again war” and the dictum that German foreign policy would always be embedded in a multilateral framework, avoiding any German Sonderweg, summarized in the slogan “never alone.”10

In the beginning of the 1990s, Germany contributed logistical and medical support to peacekeeping missions in Cambodia and Somalia.11 Yet the central conflict for German discussions on the use for force in the 1990s was the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. After pressure from the allies, beginning in 1992, German armed forces contributed to monitoring the arms embargo in the Adriatic and participated in the airlift to Sarajevo.12 Considerable disagreement, within the CDU/CSU-FDP coalition government (the same coalition in charge during the Libya intervention) emerged when the Government considered the participation of German personnel in NATO AWACS13 missions supporting a no-fly zone over Bosnia in 1993.14 The former Minister for Postal Services and Communication Christian Schwarz-Schilling, who had resigned from the cabinet in 1992 to protest the Government’s inaction in Bosnia, remembers the internal coalition standoff on the AWACS question. The FDP, under the leadership of Otto Graf Lambsdorff, had internally threatened to make the AWACS decision a “coalition question” (Koalitionsfrage) - a question that could potentially break up the Government.15 In response, during a CDU/CSU parliamentary caucus meeting, Schwarz-Schilling introduced a motion that would force the caucus to vote on the issue. The caucus voted unanimously to leave German personnel in the AWACS planes, leaving the Chancellor no choice but to communicate to the FDP, that there was no room for maneuver.16

The SPD and FDP asked the Constitutional Court to decisively rule on the question of whether German troops could participate in deployments outside the borders of the NATO alliance.17 The Court ruled on July 12th, 1994 that German military participation in out-of-area missions was legal when conducted in a “collective security system”.18

While this clarified the constitutional standing of German military missions abroad, the resistance of the German public and majority of politicians to contribute to those missions remained. In the context of the ongoing crisis in Bosnia, one of the principle arguments was the “history argument”19: The assertion that because of German history and the legacy of the Second World War, Germany had a special responsibility for military restraint. In particular Germany could not send troops to Bosnia, where they had been during the Second World War.20 The developments in the former Yugoslavia and pressure from NATO allies, however, led to an increasing German military contribution in Bosnia. The Government agreed to contribute troops and Tornado fighters for a potential evacuation of the UN’s Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in early 1995.21 In June 1995 after the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men in the enclave of Srebrenica and the threat of further massacres looming, the first German Tornados flew missions over Bosnia.22 In December 1995, the Federal Republic agreed to contribute to NATO’s “Implementation Force” (IFOR) with initially 2,600 troops. Over the subsequent months and years, Germany continued to contribute substantially to NATO’s follow-up mission in Bosnia (SFOR) and, since 2004, the European Union’s mission in Bosnia (EUFOR).23

The 1995 Srebrenica massacre change was an important factor contributing to a shift in the way German politicians addressed the use of force. More than anything that had preceded it, Srebrenica forced the politicians to confront what was summarized by Green Party leader Joschka Fischer as the contradiction between the slogans “never again war” and “never again Auschwitz.”24 Not only in the Green Party, but also within other parties and the general public, the debates on Bosnia after Srebrenica started to include a new interpretation of the “history argument” in favor of presenting German history as a reason for a special German responsibility to prevent gross human rights abuses, at least in Europe.25

This shift became especially evident in the debates on the German participation in the Kosovo intervention in 1998 and 1999.26 The German intervention in Kosovo has been interpreted by many as the final step to German “normalization” in regard to using military force, especially because the deployment was authorized by an SPD-Green coalition even in the absence of a Security Council mandate.27 There were a variety of reasons for the German participation in the Kosovo intervention, including significant pressure from Germany’s allies and the effort to prevent another wave of refugees from coming to Germany.28 However, the debates over Kosovo also demonstrated a shift in discourse from understanding the German history of aggression and the Holocaust as a reason why Germany should not use its military abroad to an interpretation of German history as precisely the reason of why Germany should use its military to save lives.29 The former Defense Minister Volker Rühe summarized this in a debate on Kosovo in the Bundestag by stating that “there are examples in history that show that it can be immoral to use soldiers; in other situations, however, one has to say that it is deeply immoral to not use soldiers, when it is the only chance to stop war and massacre.”30 Both Chancellor Schröder and Foreign Minister Fischer embraced this new interpretation of German history and responsibility.31

2.2. Increasing contributions and persistent skepticism

Since Kosovo, Germany increasingly deployed military force, including in places outside Europe from Afghanistan to the Congo. This increase in out of area deployments went hand in hand with a continuous transformation of the Bundeswehr to adjust to the requirements of an Armee im Einsatz (Military force in action).32 Yet the increase of German contributions to military operations abroad was accompanied by a remaining resistance and skepticism, in both the public and among politicians to consider the use of force.

After the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, Chancellor Schröder immediately declared “unconditional solidarity” with the United States and clearly stated that this might also mean a German military contribution to any American response to the attacks.33 The Government, however, was ultimately only able to secure the support in its own ranks for a German contribution to the world wide anti-terrorism mission “Operation Enduring Freedom” (OEF) by coupling the Bundestag vote on the mandate with a “vote of confidence” which meant that not gaining enough support from the coalition itself would have toppled the Government.34 The German contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, always presented as a “stabilization operation”35 by German politicians, initially enjoyed much broader political support. Since 2001 it grew from initially 1,200 to 5,350 troops since 2010. Germany took over the responsibility for Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Kunduz and Feyzabad in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Since 2006, Germany led ISAF’s Regional Command North and remains the third largest troop contributor to date.36

A tension remained, however, between the contribution that Germany was willing to provide and the expectations of its allies. German forces were largely restricted from operating outside the comparatively less risky North, were not allowed to engage in offensive combat operations or to participate in anti-narcotic operations, despite continued pressure from NATO allies.37 Moreover, the operation in Afghanistan became increasingly unpopular in Germany. With an increase in German and civilian casualties and the realization that Germany was involved in a war in Afghanistan, opinion polls have shown since 2007 that a growing majority of Germans favor a withdrawal of their troops.38

The debate and German “no” to the controversial American-led invasion in Iraq in 2003 was both a reminder of German skepticism towards military interventions and is particularly interesting as a background to the German policy towards Libya, because the Federal Republic also occupied a seat on the Security Council in 2003 and 2004. The episode demonstrated that it was possible in Germany to make substantial gains in national polls by opposing a military intervention. Gerhard Schröder articulated very clearly and early, in the context of a very close federal election at home in the fall of 2002, that Germany would not participate in any military intervention in Iraq, even if such an intervention would be authorized by a UN mandate 39 The CDU and parts of the press sharply criticized the Government for damaging transatlantic relations and isolating Germany internationally. Internally, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer was enraged when the Chancellor significantly limited Germany’s diplomatic options in announcing a German “no” vote on any Security Council vote that would authorize an intervention.40 The Foreign Office seriously worried that if France changed course in the last minute, Germany would find itself voting “no” as the only non-permanent member of the Council other than Syria.41 Angela Merkel, who was the leader of the CDU at the time, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post criticizing the Schröder Government for hurting the alliance, writing that: “the most important lesson for German politics - never again should Germany stand alone - was apparently easily waved off by the Federal Government.”42

With the German contribution to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 2006, Germany for the first time participated in a peacekeeping mission with a “robust” mandate that allows for the use of armed force.43 Yet the debate around German participation in UNIFIL in 2006 demonstrated the continued influence of German history on the debates surrounding the use of force. A significant number of politicians, including then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Merkel, but especially FDP leader Guido Westerwelle, raised a fear that German soldiers in the mission could potentially have to be involved in fighting against Israeli soldiers.44 Not least because of the specific support of Israel for the German participation in UNIFIL, the Bundestag authorized a German participation in September 200645

The same year, Germany contributed to an EU mission around elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 780 soldiers. While the EU forces engagement could retrospectively be partially seen as successful, the withdrawal of the forces after the four months - in large part because of German pressure and the criteria put in place by the Bundestag - meant that due to the delay of the final presidential elections, the forces left precisely at the point in time that they had been sent for in the first place.46

2.3. Germany and the use of force in 2011

At the time of the Libya intervention in 2011, German military forces were contributing to at least ten missions abroad. The German contribution to NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan took up the majority of soldiers, with up to 5,350 troops involved in the mission. In the Balkans, Germany was significantly involved in the ongoing missions in Kosovo (KFOR) and Bosnia (EUFOR), which had both been going on in one form or another for more than 10 years. In addition, there were German troops participating in UNIFIL and NATO’s anti-terror mission “Active Endeavour” in the Mediterranean and in the anti­piracy mission ATALANTA at the Horn of Africa.47 These German contributions demonstrate an increasing willingness to use force abroad to support its allies, defend German national interests and use force for humanitarian concerns. Yet Germans remain more skeptical of military force than their partners. The German Libya policy would be a reminder of the differences between Germany and its closest allies.

3. The crisis in Libya and the German response: from early leader to abstention

As will be shown in the course of this paper, the specific chronology of events leading up to the vote on Resolution 1973 is crucial to understand the German decision making. In order to provide the foundation for the analysis of the factors contributing to the Government’s decision not to participate in an intervention in Libya and to abstain on Resolution 1973, this chapter gives an overview of the most important events and processes between the start of the protests in Libya and the German abstention.

3.1. Initial German leadership: February 15th to February 26th 2011

Shortly after protests began in Libya in mid-February 2011 it became clear that the uprising in Libya would be met with a different quality of suppression than protests in Tunisia and Egypt. Human Rights Watch estimated that 230 people were killed in the first five days of unrest.48 Libyan government troops and mercenaries shot protesters while Gaddafi and his son, Saif al-Islam, publicly confirmed their intention to violently suppress the uprising. On February 20th Saif al-Islam said that the Government would “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."49 Two days later, Gaddafi announced that he would "cleanse Libya house by house" if protests continued, comparing protesters with “rats”50 and “cockroaches.”51

The international community responded quickly to the crisis. On February 22nd the Arab League denounced the violence used by the Libyan government, announced its support for the rebels and suspended Libya’s delegation from its meetings.52 The same day, senior United Nations officials, including the Special Advisors for the Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect as well as the High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued statements in which they described the violence by the Gaddafi government as possibly constituting “crimes against humanity.”53 Later on February 22nd, the Security Council condemned the “use of force against civilians” and “called for an immediate end to violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population.”54 On February 25th, the Human Rights Council recommended that the General Assembly suspend Libya, which was accomplished on March 1st.55 The following day, less than two weeks after the start of protests in Libya, the Security Council passed Resolution 1970. The Council condemned the use of lethal force against civilians, recalled the Libyan authorities’ “Responsibility to Protect” its citizens and imposed sanctions, including asset freezes, travel bans and an arms embargo. The resolution also referred the situation in Libya to the International Criminal Court (ICC), making it the first-ever unanimous vote by the Security Council to send a case to The Hague.56

The Arab Spring took Germany, along with the rest of the world, by surprise.57 Yet the German government denounced violent repression in Tunisia and Egypt earlier, and with more consistency, than some of its European partners. While the French government, represented by then Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie initially offered help to the Tunisian dictator to suppress protest in his country,58 Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was one of the very few that addressed the escalating situation in Egypt in the Security Council on February 11th.59 Germany responded similarly to the outbreak of violence in Libya. France and Italy initially wanted to call on “all parties” to stop the violence and the French Foreign Minister even suggested that the EU should act to restore order in Libya in favor of the Gaddafi government.60 In contrast to that, Germany pushed within the European Union for a clear condemnation of the Gaddafi government and argued that the EU should pressure Gaddafi to stop the violence with one voice.61 The German chancellor described Gaddafi’s speech from February 22nd as “very very frightening”, referred to a “declaration of war” by Gaddafi against his own people and called for sanctions against the Gaddafi government, while Foreign Minister Westerwelle called for a clearer language by other European countries.62 Germany supported the Special Session of the Human Rights Council and co-sponsored the resolution that recommended the suspension of Libyan membership.63 The German participation in drafting and passing Resolution 1970 was described to the author by other diplomats in New York as “supportive” and even “pushy”.64 Germany’s UN mission particularly supported the sanctions part of the resolution and strongly advocated for the ICC referral.65 The Foreign Minister had already demanded concrete sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes in the days before the resolution.66 In a statement after the passing of 1970, the German Permanent Representative to the United Nations described the resolution as “historic” and welcomed “the Council’s swift, decisive, united and strong message.”67

3.2. From leader to skeptic: February 26th to March 15th

As the situation on the ground in Libya continued escalating after Resolution 1970 was passed, discussions on further actions by the Security Council and the international community started almost immediately after February 26th. Leading politicians from the United Kingdom and France publicly considered a no-fly zone as a next step and initiated military planning for that purpose.68 The United States, however, while not excluding any options, warned against a no-fly zone. On February 28th, for example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned that most of the violence was conducted on the ground which would limit the effectiveness of a no-fly zone.69 Defense Secretary Robert Gates was publicly wary of such a measure, stressing that the establishment of a no-fly zone would have to start with air attacks on Libyan air defenses and warning that it would be “a big operation in a big country."70

The German position on a no-fly zone underwent a change in early March. When asked whether he would consider the implementation of a no-fly zone over Libya, the Parliamentary State Minister in the Ministry of Defense, Christian Schmidt, said on February 25th that he thought that if a no-fly zone would lead to a “rapid pacification” and the “saving of human lives”, EU members would have to participate in its implementation.71 The Foreign Minister explicitly did not exclude a no-fly zone over Libya in a radio interview on February 28th.72 Starting around March 7th, however, Westerwelle began emphasizing an alternative approach. A no-fly zone, he said, meant a military intervention and as such could only be established with both a Security Council mandate and the approval of countries in the region. Instead of a no-fly zone, Westerwelle argued, the international community should focus on strengthening the sanctions regime against Gaddafi and his supporters.73 German officials continued to call for the Security Council to discuss the situation in Libya again but focused on sanctions.74 A meeting of the Council on March 8th ended with no agreement on further measures; all participants of the meeting seemed to be waiting for the outcome of upcoming regional meetings by the African Union, the Arab League and the European Union before taking any further steps.75 On March 8th, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called on the Security Council to establish a no-fly zone, followed by a call the next day by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).76 The African Union in a meeting on March 10th condemned the violence against Libyan protesters but explicitly opposed a military intervention by outside forces.77

Two EU meetings of foreign ministers and heads of state and government on March 10th and March 11th revealed the deep disagreement within Europe on the appropriate further course on Libya. The German position in those meetings was very skeptical of a no-fly zone.78 German officials were irritated by the French step to suddenly rush ahead, recognize the Libyan rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC) and openly call for a no-fly zone in a letter to European Council members on March 10th. Together with other EU member states, Germany prevented the UK and France from including a reference to a no-fly zone in the final statement of the March 11th summit.79 The final declaration reflected the German and, at that point, US line that a no-fly zone - only referred to as “all necessary options” in the declaration - would only be considered if there was “a demonstrable need, a clear legal basis and supportfrom the region.”80

On March 12th, the Arab League called on the Security Council “to impose immediately a no-fly zone on Libyan military aviation, and to establish safe areas in places exposed to shelling as a precautionary measure that allows the protection of the Libyan people and foreign nationals residing in Libya [...].” At the same time the preamble of the document contained the phrase that the Arab League was “recalling its commitment [...] to reject all forms of foreign intervention in Libya.”81

The Arab League’s call for a no-fly zone was critical for the subsequent developments in the Security Council and the eventual passing of Resolution 1973. French and British officials in New York already met with the Lebanese delegation on March 12th to prepare a text for a draft resolution.82 After initial discussions on Monday, March 14th’ in the Security Council, Lebanon distributed a draft text to Council members the following day. This original draft resolution included the establishment of a no-fly zone as well as the strengthening of sanctions.83 84 While there was broad agreement on the sanctions, China, Russia, India and Germany voiced concerns about the no-fly zone and requested more information. Meanwhile, the US position was not clear to many Council members. US Ambassador Susan Rice said on March 14th that the no-fly zone “merits urgent and serious consideration," but she also warned that a no-fly zone was “on its own [...] unlikely to protect civilians on the ground” and that U.S. willingness to support the Arab League initiative would “depend on serious participation by Arab

The statements by the German Foreign Minister changed slightly after the call of the Arab League. The official German line had previously been that a requirement for German support of a no­fly zone over Libya was a Security Council mandate and the approval of Arab States of a military mission.85 This was changed in a statement the day after the call of the Arab League into the requirement of an active participation of Arab States in the implementation of any resolution.86 German officials also seized on the apparent contradiction included in the Arab League statement. In a press release on March 13th, Guido Westerwelle asked how it would be possible to “implement a no-fly zone - itself being an outside military intervention - without violating the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Libya, as sought by the Arab League.”87 In the UN Security Council on March 15th, Ambassador Wittig also questioned the extent of support for the no-fly zone by the Arab League.88 Both Westerwelle and Wittig kept emphasizing the importance of strengthening sanctions in place of armed intervention.89

In a summit meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers on March 14th and March 15th in Paris, there were significant disagreements between the G8 countries. While the French, British and Canadian foreign ministers tried to obtain a consensus on a no-fly zone, their German, US, and Russian colleagues remained skeptical, asking questions about the actual implementation and the consequences of the measure.90 The disagreement between the French and the German foreign ministers was so far- reaching that Westerwelle interrupted and corrected Alain Juppé when the latter referred to “broad support” for the no-fly zone in the meeting. On the French side there seemed to be sufficient irritation that a French diplomat at the United Nations remembered that the meeting had gone very badly and that the two Foreign Ministers hardly communicated in the following days.91

3.3. Negotiating Resolution 1973 and the German decision to abstain:

March 15th to March 17th

Up until the second day of the G8 meeting on March 15th, German officials saw themselves in full alignment with the United States. The crucial change in the American position came in the evening of Tuesday, March 15th. In a meeting of the National Security Council at the White House on Tuesday evening President Obama instructed Susan Rice to try to negotiate a resolution that would authorize not only a no-fly zone, but a significantly broader authorization to use force in Libya, including targeted air strikes.92

Still on Tuesday evening, Susan Rice called the French Permanent Representative Gérard Araud and informed him of the changed U.S. position. The magnitude of the proposed changes was such that diplomats at the French and British UN missions were secretly wondering whether the US was intentionally trying to make the resolution fail.93

Wednesday, March 16th 2011

By the morning of Wednesday, March 16th the American changes had already been included in the British, French and Lebanese draft resolution from the day before. Only then, on Wednesday morning, Susan Rice informed the German Permanent Representative in a phone call about the new American position and the amendments. Peter Wittig subsequently called Berlin, which therefore learned of the American changes in the early afternoon local time of Wednesday March 16th.94


1 Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations New York. “Responsibility, reliability and commitment - Germany in the UN Security Council 2011-2012.” January 3, 2011.

2 Bellamy, Alex J., and Paul D. Williams. “The new politics of protection? Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and the responsibility to protect “. International Affairs 87, no. 4 (2011): 825-850.

3 Rinke, Andreas. “Eingreifen oder nicht? Warum sich die Bundesregierung in der Libyen-Frage enthielt.”Internationale Politik4 Juli/August (2011): p. 44-52; Greiner, Lena. “Die Libyen-Resolution: Was damals wirklich geschah.” Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik 7 (2012): 73-78.

4 Seibel, Wolfgang. “R2P and German Foreign Policy.” Paper prepared for the Workshop “Norms and Practice of Humanitarian Interventions: Operationalizing the Responsibility to Protect.” University of Konstanz, June 14-16, 2012; Katsioulis, Christos. “Die deutsche Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik nach der Intervention in Libyen.” Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft 4 (2011): 27-44.

5 Noetzel, Timo and Benjamin Schreer. “All the way? The evolution of German military power.” International Affairs 84, no. 2 (2008): 211-221, p.212.

6 Maull, Hanns, W. “Germany and the Use of Force: Still a ‘Civilian Power’?” Survival42, no.2 (2000): 56-80, p.57.

7 Meiers, Franz-Josef. “Von der Scheckbuchdiplomatie zur Verteidigung am Hindukusch. Die Rolle der Bundeswehr bei multinationalen Auslandseinsätzen 1990-2009.” Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik, no.3 (2010): 201-222, p.204.

8 Kundnani, Hans. “Germany as a Geo-economic Power.” The Washington Quarterly 34, no. 3 (2011): 31-45, p.34.

9 Longhurst, Kerry. Germany and the Use of Force. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004, p. 57.

10 Ibid, p. 59.

11 Maull, “Still a civilian power?”, p.58.

12 Zehfuss, Maja. Constructivism in International Relations. The Politics of Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002, p.29.

13 “Airborne Early Warning and Control System”

14 Longhurst, Germany and the Use of Force, p.60

15 Interview with Christian Schwarz-Schilling, 5 June 2012, Loccum, Germany.

16 Ibid

17 Simms, Brendan. “From the Kohl to the Fischer Doctrine: Germany and the Wars of the Yugoslav Succession,1991-1999.” German History 21, no.3 (2003): 393-414, p.403. As Simms also points out, the FDP brought the claim to the Court even though it was itself part of the Government.

18 Zehfuss, Constructivism, p.30.

19 Dorff, Robert H. “Normal Actor or Reluctant Power? The Future of German Security Policy.” European Security 6 (1997): 56­69, p. 58.

20 Simms, “From the Kohl to the Fischer Doctrine.”, p.404.

21 Keßelring, Agilolf. “Bosnien-Herzegowina: Von UNPROFOR zu EUFOR Althea.” In Wegweiser zur Geschichte: Auslandseinsätze der Bundeswehr, edited by Bernhard Chiari and Magnus Pahl, Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt (MFGA), 51-63. Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh, 2010, p. 57.

22 Ibid. p.58.

23 Ibid. p.60-63.

24 Fischer, Joschka. Die rot-grünen Jahre. Deutsche Außenpolitik - vom Kosovo bis zum 11. September. Köln: Kiepenheuer und Witsch Verlag, 2007, p.185.

25 Simms, “From the Kohl to the Fischer Doctrine”, p.413.

26 Leithner, Anika. Shaping German Foreign Policy. History, Memory, National Interest. Boulder: FirstForumPress, 2008, p.21.

27 Zehfuss, Constructivism, p.32.

28 Maull, “Still a civilian power?”, p.60-61.

29 Simms, “From the Kohl to the Fischer Doctrine”, p.413.

30 Leithner, Shaping German Foreign Policy. p.32.

31 Smith, Karen E. Genocide and the Europeans. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p.191.

32 Zeit Online. “Eine .Armee im Einsatz'.” May 15, 2007.

33 Longhurst, Germany and the Use of Force, p.82.

34 Meiers, “Von der Scheckbuchdiplomatie”, p.210.

35 Kundnani, “Germany as a Geo-economic Power”, p.39.

36 Brummer, Klaus and Stefan Fröhlich. “Zehn Jahre Deutschland in Afghanistan.” In 10 Jahre Afghanistan, Bestandaufnahme und Perspektiven. Deutsche Atlantische Gesellschaft, April 2012: 14-24, p. 16.

37 Meiers, “Von der Scheckbuchdiplomatie”, p.213.

38 Kundnani, “Germany as a Geo-economic Power“, p.39.

39 Sattar, Majid. “Joseph Fischer - Not very convincing.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 13, 2011.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid. Former Green Party MP Winfried Nachtwei also highlighted this concern in an interview with the author.

42 Merkel, Angela. “Schroeder doesn’t speak for all Germans.” Washington Post, February 20, 2003. Page A39.

43 Breitwieser, Thomas. “Die Vereinten Nationen und der Nahost-Konflikt In Wegweiser zur Geschichte, p.93.

44 Meiers, “Von der Scheckbuchdiplomatie”, p.212.

45 Ibid.

46 Pahl, Magnus. “Die Beteiligung der Bundeswehr an der Operation EUFOR RD Congo.“ In Wegweiser zur Geschichte, p.116.

47 Bundeswehr. “Bundeswehr im Einsatz.” 2011.

48 Human Rights Watch. “Libya: Governments Should Demand End to Unlawful Killings.” February 20, 2011.

49 Black, Ian. “Libya on brink as protests hit Tripoli.” Guardian, February 21,2011.

50 Saleh, Hebah and Andrew England. “Defiant Gaddafi vows to fight to death.” Financial Times, February 22, 2011.

51 BBC News. “Defiant Gaddafi refuses to quit.” February 22, 2012.

52 Reuters. “Arab League suspends Libya delegation.” February 22, 2011.

53 United Nations. “Press Release: UN Secretary-General Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Francis Deng, and Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Edward Luck, on the Situation in Libya.” February 22, 2011.

54 UN Security Council. “Security Council Press Statement on Libya.” February 22, 2011.

55 General Assembly. “General Assembly Suspends Libya from Human Rights Council (GA/11050).” March 1, 2011.

56 UN Security Council. “Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011).” February 26, 2011.

57 Wittig, Peter. 2012. “Speech by Ambassador Wittig on the Transformation of the Middle East - at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.” January 18, 2012.

58 BBC News. “French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie quits over Tunisia.” February 27, 2011.

59 Wittig, Peter. 2012. “Speech by Ambassador Wittig.”

60 Rinke, “Eingreifen oder nicht?”, p.45.

61 Ibid.

62 Walz, Christian. “Merkel verurteilt Gaddafi's .Kriegserklärung.” Deutsche Welle, February 23, 2011.

63 Federal Foreign Office. “Press Release: Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle welcomes clear stance of Human Rights Council on Libya.” February 25, 2011.

64 Interview with French diplomat at the United Nations, April 19, 2012, New York.

65 Ibid.

66 Auswärtiges Amt.“Bundesminister Westerwelle zur Situation in Libyen (Deutschlandfunk).” February 25, 2011.

67 UN Security Council. “In swift, decisive action, Security Council imposes tough measures on Libyan regime.” February 26, 2011.

68 The Guardian. “Libya no-fly bid ‘legal without UN’.” March 1, 2011. Rinke, “Eingreifen oder nicht?”, p.46.

69 U.S. Department of State. “Hillary Clinton: Interview with Kim Ghattas of BBC.” February 28, 2011.

70 Reuters. “No-fly zone for Libya would require attack: Gates.” March 2, 2011.

71 “Pressemitteilung: Staatssekretär Christian Schmidt beim informellen Treffen der EU­ Verteidigungsminister“. February 25, 2011.

72 SWR2. “Westerwelle will in Genf über eine Flugverbotszone in Libyen reden.” February 28, 2011.

73 Auswärtiges Amt. “Libyen: .Sanktionen und Humanitäre Hilfe‘ (Interview im Straubinger Tagblatt).” March 9, 2011; The Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations New York. “Remarks by Ambassador Wittig to the UN Press Corps on Libya.” March 8, 2011.

74 Federal Foreign Office. “Federal Minister Westerwelle welcomes naming of UN Special Envoy to Libya.” March 7, 2011.

75.Security Council Report. “UPDATE REPORT NO. 1. LIBYA 14 MARCH 2011.” March 14, 2011.

76 Ibid

77 Ibid

78 Rinke, “Eingreifen oder nicht?”, p.47.

79 Ibid. p.48.

80 European Council. Extraordinary European Council 11 March 2011 - Declaration. April 20, 2011, paragraph 6.

81 League of Arab States. The outcome ofthe Council of the League of Arab States meeting at the Ministerial level in its extraordinary session on the implications of the current events in Libya and the Arab position. March 12, 2011.

82 Interview with French official at the United Nations.

83 Lynch, Colum. “Lebanon, Britain, France call for U.N. no fly zone, authorization of force, to protect Libyan civilians and foreign nationals.” TurtleBay. March 15, 2011.

84 Ibid

85 Federal Foreign Office. “Federal Minister Westerwelle welcomes naming of UN Special Envoy to Libya.” March 7, 2011.

86 Permanent Mission of Germany to the UN. “Foreign Minister Westerwelle on Libya.” March 13, 2011.

87 Ibid.

88 Interview with diplomats at the United Nations in New York. See also press conference with Lebanese Permanent Representative in which a reporter asked: “The German ambassador seemed to say that a no-fly zone could constitute the type of military intervention that the Arab League doesn’t want.” United Nations Webcast. “Nawaf Salam (Lebanon) on Libya, Security Council Media Stakeout.” March 15, 2011.

89 Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations New York. “Foreign Minister Westerwelle on Libya.” March 13, 2011; Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations New York. “Remarks by Ambassador Wittig to the UN Press Corps on Libya.” March 14, 2011.

90 Rinke, “Eingreifen oder nicht?”, p.48.

91 Interview with French diplomat at the United Nations.

92 Hastings, Michael. “Inside Obama’s War Room.” The Rolling Stone, October 27, 2011.

93 Interviews with French and British diplomats at the United Nations, April 18 and April 19, 2012, New York. Compare also Lynch, Colum. “Amb. Rice: Leading from behind? That’s .whacked’.” Turtle Bay, October 31, 2011.

94 " Interviews with diplomats at the United Nations. Rinke, “Eingreifen oder nicht?”, p.49.

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German Policy towards Intervention in Libya
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Libya;, Intervention;, German foreign policy;, abstention;, Resolution 1973;, UN Security Council;, Germany
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Sarah Brockmeier (Author), 2012, German Policy towards Intervention in Libya, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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