As its campaigns falter, the military alliance could find that in future fewer countries are willing to sign up to fight
The armed forces of the world’s mightiest military alliance, Nato, have failed twice now to win a war. American, British, French and other foreign troops are preparing to withdraw from a combat role in Afghanistan, the first war in which Nato deployed ground forces, while the US, Britain and France again also appear to be on the point of giving up the fight in Libya, saying Gaddafi can stay there after all, provided he gives up power.
Since Iraq, a US-led war waged by a “coalition of the willing”, the number of willing has gradually decreased. Now, after Afghanistan and Libya, they are likely to be fewer than ever.
Nato countries have spent billions – Britain more than £14bn at the last count – failing to counter an insurgency in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in Libya, they have conducted more than 6,000 strike sorties – with Britain destroying more than 700 targets at a cost of well over £120m at the last count.
You cannot “drop democracy from 14,000ft”, David Cameron said weeks before enthusiastically joining Nicolas Sarkozy in trying to do just that.