In a bold move, France became the first nation to recognize the Libyan rebels as the country's legitimate government on Thursday. The strong showing of support is being viewed as compensation for French President Nicolas Sarkozy's admittedly slow response to the revolution in Tunisia, a former French protectorate. A question many are wondering now though is does this draw the U.S. closer into a military intervention given France's stature as a NATO ally?
Yes it does, says Foreign Policy's Thomas Ricks, who covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post between 2000 and 2008. "France's recogniztion... opens the door for NATO intervening in the civil war," he writes. "That's not a bad thing... There comes a point when action is necessary. I was worried that we would not move until there was a mass slaughter-and that might come too late." He proceeds to devise a pre-intervention gameplan, which includes supplying rebels with anti-tank weapons, rocket-propelled greandes, .50 calibre machine guns and food.
What Ricks doesn't address is the sequence of events that would lead to a NATO-led intervention. On this point, the U.S. and France don't see eye-to-eye. The New York TImes explains:
France has... set itself apart from some other nations, including the United States, by insisting that any military support for the rebels be authorized by the, but not carried out by NATO, since the alliance has an aggressive image in the Arab world. Washington favors using NATO.