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NATO's Afghanistan Policy

Spiegel International summarizes in English the commentary of three German papers about the NATO summit in Riga and writes in Twisting and Turning over German Troops:
Angela Merkel is resisting pressure from NATO: She refuses to station German troops in the south of Afghanistan. But she has agreed to let German troops conduct "emergency rescue missions" there. It sounds harmless, but it could have significant consequences for the troops.

Riga Summit Declaration

What are NATO's goals in Afghanistan? The Century Foundation's Afghanistan Watch recommends a Financial Times article and adds interesting comments:
The Financial Times opines today that the Riga summit has "the makings of a small disaster" but that can be salvaged by refocusing on the alliances most pressing priority: Afghanistan. The FT argues that in addition to more troops, leaders must figure out what they're trying to achieve, and that "the strategy for the Afghanistan mission -- to help the government of President Hamid Karzai extend its authority -- is too broad brush to be useful." Nietzsche once wrote that "the most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place." As the FT notes, the current strategy "does not sufficiently indicate what kind of end state Nato is seeking to achieve or how long its troops will remain.
This post will be updated over the weekend for a more comprehensive coverage of the NATO Summit. Did you come across an interesting article about the summit? Please recommend in the comments section.

Related posts in the Atlantic Review:
Round-up of opinions before the NATO summit and Should Germany Send Troops to Southern Afghanistan? and Afghanistan Intervention "on the cheap"

Germany's Economic Problems

• The Economist: The sad lack of reformers in Germany, even on the right: "The economy is in its best shape for several years, in part thanks to labour-market, tax and other reforms pushed through by the previous government and by the grand coalition of Christian and Social Democrats (CDU and SPD). Yet the reformers are on the defensive."

• The Economist: German inequality: "The country is no longer the equitable middle-class society of its dreams. Rising inequality has led to two debates: one about bourgeois values, the other about an underclass. The first has long simmered. The second is causing a stir reminiscent of last year's 'locust' debate over foreign investors."

• Sign and Sight (translating Die Zeit): Berlin: capital of the underclass: "on Berlin, the urban insult to Germany's faith in hard work."

• Houston Chronicle: Berlin facing acute Santa shortage just before Christmas. Don Surber's comment: A German take a job? Ho-ho-ho

Opinions About the NATO Summit in Riga and the Future of the Alliance

NATO summit RigaThe leaders of 26 NATO member countries meet in the Latvian capital Riga from 28-29 November to "chart the way ahead for the Alliance" operations, transformation and partnerships."
Reuters has learned that "a U.S. plan to forge a network of partnerships around NATO from Scandinavia to Asia will get the thumbs-down from members wary of the alliance going global, diplomats said on Friday." See the Atlantic Review's post about Ivo Daalder's concept of a global NATO.
Here's a round-up of opinions on the eve of the summit:
Continue reading "Opinions About the NATO Summit in Riga and the Future of the Alliance"

Should Germany Send Troops to Southern Afghanistan?

"Recently, pressure from NATO officials and representatives of other contributing nations augmented for Germany to move more of its troops to the east and south of Afghanistan where the security situation has become much worse leading to more casualties among British, American and Canadian troops stationed there. Former Bundeswehr General-Inspector Klaus Naumann in a newspaper interview went as far as to say that Germany's refusal to take more of the military burden threatens the existence of NATO." writes the Gateway to German Foreign Policy at the University of Trier and then presents two op-eds in favor and against sending German troops to Southern Afghanistan. Excerpts below the fold:
Continue reading "Should Germany Send Troops to Southern Afghanistan?"

Transatlantic Approaches, Quagmires, and Iran

"Having recently returned home after nearly four years as a New York Times correspondent in Europe, I am struck by how deeply divided the United States is on almost every other issue," writes Richard Bernstein in the International Herald Tribune (via: Kosmoblog):
Here in Manhattan, the affairs of the world seem very close, and not just because the situation in Iraq is particularly nasty, or even because we seem so stuck there, with none of the three options currently under discussion - pulling out the troops, keeping the same number of troops, and pulling the troops out in pre-announced phases - seeming to promise a happy outcome.
Unlike Europe, which largely stays free of such quagmires, Americans are fated to get into one every now and then. It is the cost of being a superpower, especially a superpower that has always seen intervention in the affairs of the rest of the world as a natural vocation. (...)
The blue-state-red-state dichotomy is a real and enduring one, and it is reflected in fierce and angry polemics about matters like gay rights and abortion that, for the most part, were settled in Europe years ago. It is not wrong to see the United States as a place where, far more than in Europe, a lot of basic issues are up for grabs.
Bernstein, however, concludes that the United States is a country divided on issues, but united on principles.
Our reader Avi made a slightly similar comparison
between Americans and Europeans:
Continue reading "Transatlantic Approaches, Quagmires, and Iran"

Should the United States Send more Troops to Iraq or Start the Withdrawal?

David V. emailed:
Here's a thought that you may want to write about: why not try democracy in Iraq? 70% of all Iraqis want American troops to leave immediately, and at least the same percentage of Americans feel the same way. Why not follow the will of the people? Yet it appears likely that Bush will follow McCain's proposal and put 20-40 thousand more troops in.
Systems of representative democracy are usually considered better than direct democracy. Besides, Tony Blankley warns in RealClearPolitics (via DMK) against bending to popular pressure:
Expedient Washington politicians, take note: Your public is fickle. They may cheer your decision today to get out of Iraq but vote you out of office tomorrow when they don't like the results. Much of the world (and a fair portion of the American public) may hate us today for our alleged arrogance. But they will spit out our name with contempt through time if we permit to be released the whirlwind that will follow our exit.
I have heard it said (by conservatives and Republicans, as well as others) that "if the Iraqis just want to murder each other, we should let them. We offered them freedom, and they didn't want it." If our decision on Iraq was only about Iraq, that argument might be persuasive.
But if, as it is hard to imagine otherwise, our departure from Iraq yields civil war, chaos, warlordism and terrorist safe havens -- it is very likely that Iran will lurch in to harvest their advantages, Turkey will send in its army to stop an independent Kurdistan, and Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the other Sunni states will be sucked in to fend off Shi'a Iran's hegemony. In that nightmare maelstrom the 20 million barrels a day of oil shipped from the Persian Gulf -- and the world economy with it -- will be in daily risk of being cut off. Nor is that all. Al Qaeda and other terrorists are already gloating that they have whipped the "cowardly Americans" in Iraq.
In Should We Stay or Should We Go Now?, David Swanson summarizes Anthony Arnove's book "Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal." One of the more convincing points is "4. The United States is not preventing civil war in Iraq. This is the same myth the British spread in 1920, when they didn't want to stop occupying Iraq."
David V. elaborated his call for immediate withdrawal in his blog post "The Haditha Massacre".

Do you agree with the Clash song: "Should I stay or should I go now? / If I go there will be trouble / An' if I stay it will be double"? Or is it the other way around, i.e. more trouble if the U.S. troops leave Iraq fairly soon?  And what should Germany do regarding Iraq?

Strong EU-U.S. Trade

According to the European Commission:
The EU and US are responsible together for about two fifths of world trade. Trade flows across the Atlantic are running at around €1.7 billion a day. In the year 2003, the total amount of two-way investment was over €1.5 trillion, composed of €731 billion of EU Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the US and around €772 billion of US FDI in Europe. The overall "transatlantic workforce" is estimated at 12 to 14 million, of which roughly half are Americans who owe their jobs directly or indirectly to EU companies. In the year 2005, exports of EU goods to the US amounted to €250 billion, while imports from the US amounted to €234 billion. Concerning trade in services, EU exports to the US amounted to €108.6 billion in 2004 while EU imports from the US amounted to €93.0 billion.
The two economies are interdependent to a high degree. Close to a quarter of all EU-US trade consists of transactions within firms based on their investments on either side of the Atlantic. The transatlantic relationship defines the shape of the global economy as a whole as either the EU or the US is also the largest trade and investment partner for almost all other countries.
Being the largest players in global trade, the EU and the US are committed to cooperate both politically and economically, be it on bilateral issues or in the multilateral framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Several trade-related disputes which regularly hit the headlines in reality only impact some 2% of EU-US trade.
One of those trade disputes is that the EU and the US accuse each other of granting illegal subsidies to Boeing and Airbus. See "U.S. details complaint on Airbus subsidies" in International Herald Tribune and the latest statements on this dispute from the European Union. I have not found the latest statement from the US Trade representative, but only a US press release concerning that never ending dispute from May 2005, which indicates that this is a long dispute...
Related: Our reader ROA recommends "Jumbo Trouble: The Airbus A380 was supposed to be the future of aviation. Will it ever get off the ground?" in
Popular Mechanics.

News Round-up About Germany's Foreign and Security Policies

• Plane Bombing plot in Germany uncovered in early planning stages: Coverage in Jerusalem Post. And related from DW World: German Police Criticize Airport Security Standards

• The Economist: Germany's place in the world: "Germany's chancellor wants to play a bigger role on the world stage. But are Germans ready?"

• Reuters: Former US aides suggest NATO troops in N.Iraq to forestall the risk of a Turkish invasion: "In a policy paper issued before a summit of the 26-nation alliance in Riga next week, Richard Holbrooke and Ronald Asmus said NATO members had an interest in doing everything possible to maintain Iraq's unity and prevent a full-scale civil war."

• German Embassy: Energy Policy to be Focus of Germany's EU Presidency in 2007 and related from DW World: "Germany Has Done Everything in its Power to Undermine Uzbek Sanctions"