The New York Times reported that Bernard-Henri Levy takes credit for persuading French President Sarkozy to enter the Libyan civil war on the side of the rebels. So how did that happen?
Part of the answer is what has been discussed in the press: The West — particularly Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Smantha Power — felt guilty about how long it took for the US to interview in the genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. They didn’t want more genocide on their watch. Sarkozy is politically weak at home in France; some saber rattling would probably increase his favorability rating. I’m guessing Britain just went along with the US and France, and probably had some concerns of its own about genocide.
But I think there is more.
Levy is Jewish and proud of it. Sarkozy is something like one-quarter Jewish. The US is always under heavy pressure from Jewish lobbying. Israel would like to see instability in the Middle East countries that give it a hard time. Leading this category are Syria and Iran. Egypt and Mubarek, whom Israel liked, had already gone down the tubes. When Libya and Bahrain stood up to their protesters, it looked like the Middle Eastern spring opening might be in danger of being stopped before it could spread to countries where Israel wanted to see it overthrow the rulers, like Syria. So Israel encouraged the West through people like Levy and Sarkozy to stop Libya from putting down the protests there.
The NYT says that Levy was visiting Egypt and decided to go to Libya. Why? I think it’s likely that the Mossad suggested he go, and set up the trip for him, which ultimately led to his meeting with Sarkozy, which led to the NATO/UN/West decision to support the rebels.
It’s working. Protests are going strong in Syria, although the government continues to try to stop them. Assad may or may not survive. Not much has happened in Iran, but the protests throughout the Middle East put some pressure on it. It’s not clear what effect the continuing civil war in Libya will have on Jordan and Bahrain, but they are lower priorities for Israel. Thus, to some extent, I think we are fighting (or giving air cover or whatever we’re doing in Libya) for Israel. I think to a similar extent we partially fought the war in Iraq for Israel. Iraq with Scud missiles and possible WMDs was much more of a threat to Israel than to the US.