So about those ground troops in Libya:
A rebel official in Libya’s besieged city of Misrata pleaded desperately on Tuesday for Britain and France to send troops to help fight strongman Moamer Kadhafi’s forces, saying “if they don’t, we will die.” In the first request by any insurgents for boots on the ground, a senior member of Misrata’s governing council, Nuri Abdullah Abdullati, said they were asking for the troops on the basis of “humanitarian” principles.
The French foreign minister is said to be “entirely hostile” to the idea of sending in ground troops, but perhaps that phrase doesn’t translate quite the way you’d think:
The EU has drawn up a “concept of operations” for the deployment of military forces in Libya, but needs UN approval for what would be the riskiest and most controversial mission undertaken by Brussels.
The armed forces, numbering no more than 1,000, would be deployed to secure the delivery of aid supplies, would not be engaged in a combat role but would be authorised to fight if they or their humanitarian wards were threatened. “It would be to secure sea and land corridors inside the country,” said an EU official.
….The planning has taken place inside the office of Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign and security policy chief….Diplomats say Ashton is pushing for a UN consent under strong pressure from the French, which is generally keen to promote projects supporting European defence and security policy.
This would be an EU force, not a NATO force, and would be tasked only with protecting humanitarian aid, not fighting for the rebels. So, just like all the other non-boots on the non-ground in Libya, this also wouldn’t count as boots on the ground. Comprendre?