Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 405–417 | Cite as

‘Opération Harmattan’ in Libya: a paradigm shift in French, European and transatlantic security arrangements?

  • Jolyon HoworthEmail author


This paper argues that the Libyan crisis has produced a decisive turning point in three interconnected dimensions of the transatlantic relationship. The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) proved to be ineffective in facing up to the Libyan crisis and needs to be rethought. The USA preferred to take a ‘back seat’ in handling the crisis and forced leading European powers to face up to their regional responsibilities and assume leadership of the Libyan mission, potentially offering a model for future allied operations. NATO, for its part, demonstrated that it is less of an alliance and more of a mechanism for the constitution of coalitions of the willing. It also struggled to overcome the mediocre forces of a small-time dictator. Key to the resolution of these three issues is the leadership role of France and the UK. Whatever the outcome, the signs are that we are facing a paradigm shift.


Libya NATO European security CSDP transatlantic relations 


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Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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