Skip to content

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:
• In Time for Backbone in the Alliance, Nile Gardiner gives advice for the Bush administration. For some reason the Heritage Foundation considers it fit to publish his article, although it includes phrases (like "moral cowardice" to describe European countries) that are usually only seen on right-wing blogs :
European Defense Identity: Along with widespread apathy, moral cowardice, and European countries' general unwillingness to fight, the greatest threat to the future of NATO is posed by the drive for further political and defense integration in the European Union. The United States must firmly oppose moves in Europe to establish a European defense identity separate from, and in competition with, NATO.
• British Conservative "Shadow Defence Minister," Dr. Liam Fox. told Time Magazine that NATO's biggest problem is that the troops in Afghanistan do notoperate as a unified force. 37 countries have troops in Afghanistan but with more than 70 operating caveats. (HT: Joe, Shawn)

• The German Marshall Fund has commissioned five papers from leading thinkers on both sides of the Atlantic on the future challenges facing NATO. These original policy papers frame the critical issues both on and off the Summit agenda. Ronald D. Asmus and Richard C. Holbrooke wrote about Re-reinventing NATO, which provides an ambitious American view on the Alliance's future from two individuals deeply involved in NATO reform in the 1990s. Christoph Bertram, the former director of Germany's leading thinking tank SWP, writes about NATO's Only Future: the West Abroad.

• Johns Hopkins professor Dan Hamilton just published the op-ed "NATO summit I: In area, or in trouble":
If NATO is visible in expeditionary missions but invisible when it comes to protecting our societies, support for the alliance will wane. Its role will be marginalized and our security diminished. NATO's new mantra must be "in area or in trouble." Unfortunately, the topic is not even on the Riga agenda.
• The International Herald Tribune has learned that Divisions between "Old" and "New" Europe are fading as NATO faces new challenges:
Support for joint military operations with the United States no longer seems unconditional in Central and Eastern European countries. Slovakia, for example, deployed more than 100 non-combat troops in Iraq with an open mandate under a reformist, pro-U.S. government in 2003, only for the current populist Prime Minister Robert Fico to announce a pullout last summer, saying "we don't belong there." Hungary pulled out its 300 non-combat troops from Iraq in 2004, and Bulgaria withdrew a 450-member infantry battalion from the Mideast country in 2005, though it redeployed 120 non-combat soldiers in March.
Moreover, there is no question that the countries of 'old Europe' remain the continent's great powers. While the commitment of the new members is appreciated by the United States, what counts most in serious military conflicts such as the one in Afghanistan is the experience of NATO's established members. "Willingness to help is one thing, and ability is another."
• Spiegel International writes about German Troops in Afghanistan: "One couldn't help but feel like a lousy comrade"

• Time Magazine discusses many questions regarding Afghanistan and quotes Christoph Bertram, the "dean of German security experts," as saying that the NATO summit in Riga will be "like a Christmas service for agnostics, who for most of the year do not pray together or sing from the same hymnbook." Time writes about the pressure on Germany:
Germany, the third biggest troop contributor to ISAF, has been the focus of the caveat debate because its 2,900 troops are restricted to the more secure regions of Kabul and the north. Karsten Voigt, coordinator for U.S.-German relations in the Foreign Ministry, says he is under constant pressure to do more in Afghanistan: in Washington last month, he says, one interlocutor told him that "Germans have to learn how to kill."
Berlin will not budge, though, since neither the government nor the public has the stomach for putting German soldiers in harm's way. Mindful of that political reality, Bush isn't likely to push for a sea change. Nevertheless, it was only seven years ago, in Kosovo, that Germany first committed combat troops to a NATO mission at all. Over time, if Germany moves into a foreign-policy role consonant with its economic weight, a more self-assured stance might become politically acceptable.
Re the crucial question "Is NATO fighting the right way in Afghanistan?":
Many are beginning to wonder. NATO says its two-week offense in September, Operation Medusa, drove insurgents out of the Taliban strongholds of Panjwai and Zhari districts in Kandahar province. Daan Everts, NATO's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, calls it a "critical turning point." But that operation also killed at least a dozen civilians. "If NATO cannot bring our people security and a peaceful life, then it has failed," says Noorolhaq Olomi, an M.P. from Kandahar and chairman of the parliament's defense committee. "There is no reconstruction, just destruction." Despite efforts to help reconstruction work around the country, a military force like NATO doesn't have the resources or expertise to make Afghanistan's huge deficits -- poverty, pervasive corruption, poor education, a thriving drug trade -- quickly disappear.
The German media has written a lot about NATO's pressure on Germany and the charges about a lack of solidarity. It is my impression that by and large the German press takes these charges seriously and admits that NATO partners are right to criticize the caveats and an unfair burden-sharing in terms of fighting and casualties.
Though, moving German troops from the North to the South is not seen as the solution to NATO's problems in the South. There is also criticism of the counter-insurgency operations in the South. I think Germans will not support sending troops to South Afghanistan, especially if nobody convinces them that NATO's existing strategy for the South can indeed stabilize the country rather than continue to alienate the Afghans.
Chancellor Merkel and Defense Minister Jung are expected to focus their speeches at the NATO summit on proposing a new connected security strategy with more reconstruction efforts. (More later)
Also see the Atlantic Review's posts about two Germans arguing in favor and against sending German troops to Southern Afghanistan and about having pursued the Afghanistan Intervention on the Cheap.

Trackbacks

No Trackbacks

Comments

Display comments as Linear | Threaded

mbast on :

"There is no reconstruction, just destruction." Despite efforts to help reconstruction work around the country, a military force like NATO doesn't have the resources or expertise to make Afghanistan's huge deficits -- poverty, pervasive corruption, poor education, a thriving drug trade -- quickly disappear." And that is exactly what the problem is. You could send in the complete Bundeswehr and that would still solve nothing. Cf. Iraq. The military is not cut out for nation building. I'd say if you want to send anybody in, send more civilian reconstruction teams. At least don't send the Bundeswehr in alone, systematically send the THW or any similar organism with them. If you want to pump money into Afghanistan, pay for reconstruction, not destruction. Make sure people are properly fed and housed and they get sufficient medical supplies. The Taliban will get much less support in the population if they see that ISAF tends to help them to survive and build some sort of a civilian infrastructure. Also, with the drug trade problem not taken care of, the whole thing will collapse before long. Didn't the Brits have a program to replace poppy growing with a functional agriculture at one point? Plus the corruption/warlords issue is probably an unsolvable problem in the near future. You have warlords all over the place in the provinces, to the point that the central government in Kabul has zip control there. What you're going to do about them I don't know. I'm not sure giving them legitimacy through "voting" them into the the national assembly is the right way, though. And last not least: the Taliban have to be prevented from operating out of Pakistan. Otherwise you'll never get them under control. That has to be done in Pakistan, not just in Afghanistan. Is this approach going to work? No, probably not, but it's a hell of a lot better than just stupidly sending in military units. The Soviets did that and look what it got them.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I agree with all points. Perhaps we have to give up Southern Afghanistan. It's not worth to risk our soldier's lives there as long as Pakistan supports the insurgents and the US and UK governments call Musharraf an ally. Perhaps we should [u][url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/430-Iraq-and-Vietnam-and-the-State-of-Denial-and-Krepinevichs-Oil-Spot-Strategy.html]follow the oil-spot strategy articulated by Krepnivich in a recent post[/url][/u] If North, East and West Afghanistan are stabilized and serves as a successful model for all Afghans in the South to see, then we can move to the South. Krepnivich wrote about Iraq: "Winning will require a new approach to counterinsurgency, one that focuses on providing security to Iraqis rather than hunting down insurgents." His criticism of US policy in Iraq is valid for Afghanistan as well. mbast wrote: "I'd say if you want to send anybody in, send more civilian reconstruction teams. At least don't send the Bundeswehr in alone, systematically send the THW or any similar organism with them." I think Merkel and Jung are going to make such suggestion tonight. The Bundeswehr would need to provide protection for the THW (Germany's Technical Relief Service agency) reconstruction work. In fact NATO has already adopted the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) about two years ago. I wonder why we don't hear about that much. Reliefweb wrote about the PRTs: [u][b][url=http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/EGUA-6VXTA2?OpenDocument]NATO Riga Summit: Let aid agencies do their job in Afghanistan[/url][/b][/u] Why is it that most of the criticism from UK, Britain, Canada is: Germany should fight in the South. Why don't they criticize more that Germany has failed to train the Afghan police properly and that Germany has not done much reconstruction in the North? Why does the US media focus on the combat operations in Southern Afghanistan rather than the lack of significant US reconstruction efforts (schools, hospitals, job alternatives to opium farming etc) in East and West Afghanistan? Not a rhetorical question: Is it really impossible to work on some reconstruction project in Southern Afghanistan, while fighting the Taliban and other groups that are called "Taleban" by the western media? I think such a simultaneous work (fighting and reconstructing) is necessary to win hearts and minds in Southern Afghanistan. I think doing both is possible, if the US sends enough troops to Afghanistan. Though, of course, since the US has 150,000 troops in Iraq, they only have some 20,000 troops left for Afghanistan and can't send more. That's why "just" fighting the Taliban will not lead to success. Germany serves as the convenient scapegoat to blame for all the problems in Afghanistan.

mbast on :

"Germany serves as the convenient scapegoat to blame for all the problems in Afghanistan." Yup. That's the whole point of this "Germans are all cowards" argument (pretty new argument, actually; I seem to remember that before Afghanistan and Iraq the Germans were supposed to be militaristic, humourless and ruthlessly efficient brutes ;-)). Some Americans need to draw the attention away from the fact that their tough, "now the gloves come off" policy in the middle-east has failed miserably.

Don S on :

"Yup. That's the whole point of this "Germans are all cowards" argument" I think this is just a little too pat, mbast. I don't make that argument (which isn't a terribly sophisticated line). What I point out is that the relative lack of German military capability leads to overburdening other members of the alliance - as we must bear burdens which in justice Germany ought to bear (see Kosovo war for details). I also see a Germany which is extremely ambivalent about doing anything to right this military imbalance. It thus seems very unlikely that this will change materially over the next decade (to pick a reasonable timeframe). Ayt the same time that Germany was doing very little to improve it's contribution it has also become far more active and vociferous on setting policy (or attempting to set policy). Without (unfortunately) having the means to carry that policy out or a discernable willingness to develop those means in a tiemly manner. I point out that the present German policy if persisted in is extremely likely to eat the heart out of the NATO alliance. Germany is far from the only culprit, or course. But in many ways Germany is the leader of what I might call the 'freeloader' branch of the NATO alliance.... "(pretty new argument, actually; I seem to remember that before Afghanistan and Iraq the Germans were supposed to be militaristic, humourless and ruthlessly efficient brutes ;-))."

mbast on :

@don. "I think this is just a little too pat, mbast. I don't make that argument (which isn't a terribly sophisticated line). What I point out is that the relative lack of German military capability leads to overburdening other members of the alliance - as we must bear burdens which in justice Germany ought to bear (see Kosovo war for details)." I wasn't aiming at you, Don, and in a way you're right. There is a lack not only of German military capability, but generally of European military capability. And yes, it's also a lack of political will to commit troops into a situation that is bound to degenerate even further if there isn't a serious change in policy towards Afghanistan. As long as the Alliance limits itself to pure military action in southern Afghanistan without giving any thought to reconstruction other than a few PRTs here and there and without solving massive problems like poverty, famine, lack of housing, corruption, drug trade, you name it, nothing is going to be achieved except more death and destruction. Incidentally, about PRTs, here's a link to a very good [url=http://www.diis.dk/sw11230.asp]danish paper[/url] on them. In short: the Germans are not averse to fighting, they'd just like to know that they're fighting for something worthwhile. "You DO look a long way back, don't you mbast. I doubt that anyone has made that particular argument credibly since the 1940's. The USSR made it all the time for a while I know. But were they credible? I think not...." I was being sarcastic, of course :-).

Don S on :

The Danish comments on the 'German model' for PRT deployment were - interesting. That might be diplomatically described as 'prudent'. "[i]Even though the German PRTs are situated in what is generally considered one of the safest parts of Afghanistan, the German troops are prohibited from staying overnight outside their camp, and all patrols in the countryside have to include an armoured ambulance and force protection elements. Th eir patrols are consequently large, comprising up to 30 soldiers travelling in armoured vehicles. Moreover, the Germans are reportedly very cautious and avoiding local unrest. According to a local NGO, the German PRT reacted to its first major security test, the murder of 11 Chinese road workers in June 2004, by “locking the door from the inside,” and it is under orders from Berlin no to engage in any counter-drugs operations, even though Kunduz is one of Afghanistan’s biggest opium-producing areas." [/i] An interesting approach.

Don S on :

Oops! Here is the rest of my reply! "(pretty new argument, actually; I seem to remember that before Afghanistan and Iraq the Germans were supposed to be militaristic, humourless and ruthlessly efficient brutes ;-))." You DO look a long way back, don't you mbast. I doubt that anyone has made that particular argument credibly since the 1940's. The USSR made it all the time for a while I know. But were they credible? I think not....

Don S on :

Ummm, Joerg? Have you looked at any maps of the area recently, with attention to the routes into Afghanistan? Let me enumerate: Pakistan and Iran form the southwest and southeast frontiers of Afghanistan. To the north are Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikstan. Access to those three countries are through Russia and China. Let's assume that the Bush adminstration blows off Mushareff. How do you suggest resupplying the troops. Or even withdrawing them now that we've made Pakistan into an enemy? Also - how long do you suppose Mushareff lasts after that? And what kind of person would replace him (Hint: This has extremely important consequences for India).

ADMIN on :

Please also see the interesting debate in the comments section of the previous post concerning [u][b][url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/498-Should-Germany-Send-Troops-to-Southern-Afghanistan.html#comments]"Should Germany Send Troops to Southern Afghanistan?"[/url][/b][/u]

mbast on :

Sorry, my bad. Posted on the wrong thread.

ADMIN on :

This is the right thread. You quoted this new post. I just wanted to encourage everyone to follow both threats. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. Everybody can comment wherever they like. Sorry.

Yank on :

"For some reason the Heritage Foundation considers it fit to publish his article, although it includes phrases (like "moral cowardice" to describe European countries) that are usually only seen on right-wing blogs." (1) To administer Euros a dose of Euro medicine, this is where a yank gets to say something like the following: 'The minute anyone fails to sing your praises, you get mad. You can't take criticism.' (2) Which word is vulgar? "Moral" or "cowardice"? Moral cowardice by any other name is moral cowardice. What? It's a sin to speak the truth? So, Germany's moral cowardice isn't the sin: acknowledge it is. Right? Actually, I don't think it's moral cowardice as much as callous, selfish disregard for others. The German people cold-heartedly look the other way and refuse to help others in need. But I suspect that that large German army isn't for nothing or just to lower the unemployment rate. I suspect that it would be put to use in a conflict in which the Germany had something to gain. (3) Why is there a "left" but no "right" in Eurospeak? And why is there a "right-wing" but no "left-wing" in Eurospeak? I have noticed this: the suggestion is that anyone of the right is extremist. This discussion is pointless, in a way. Because Germany and France are deliberately trying to alienate America and will succeed. Tony Blair can't talk sense into anyone. The Russian Bear likes the idea. So, within a few years there will be a great big sucking sound heard round the world as America turns its back on Europe ... and Germany, France, and Russia scramble to fill the power vacume. Then they can start throwing their weight around again. Ah, back to the good old days before WWII...peace in Europe. As John Lennon would say, "All you need is love - guess again."

JW-Atlantic Review on :

[i]Moral cowardice by any other name is moral cowardice.[/i] Already responded to here: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/498-Should-Germany-Send-Troops-to-Southern-Afghanistan.html#c5609[/url]

Zyme on :

"So, within a few years there will be a great big sucking sound heard round the world as America turns its back on Europe ... and Germany, France, and Russia scramble to fill the power vacume. Then they can start throwing their weight around again." I agree - although I would express it more positively ;) "But I suspect that that large German army isn't for nothing or just to lower the unemployment rate. I suspect that it would be put to use in a conflict in which the Germany had something to gain." Generally I suspect our government to be afraid of the people, at least a bit. As long as there is no support by the people AND so few to gain, they certainly won´t move. But in the long run, they will indeed lower the hurdles for using our military in conflicts. Otherwise, there would be no need for modernizing our maritime and aerial forces and launching military surveillance satellites for increased independence.

mbast on :

"This discussion is pointless, in a way." True enough. Especially if we're discussing gut feelings, anger and adrenaline. Right now you're not arguing, you're expressing rather old stereotypes some Americans have about Europe to justify (or should I say "rationalize away") all the enormous blunders your government made in the middle east. It would be pointless indeed to try to explain to you the many reasons why your preconceptions about Germany and France are completely wrong since you're not prepared to listen and we haven't got all night. You'd have to know much, much more about Germany (lots of it pretty basic stuff, actually) to understand what's happening here. What you're doing is that you are indeed looking for scapegoats. The only thing that shows is how close to home this whole middle eastern mess hits even in neo-con circles. Essentially, you (and many other Americans like you) react by pure instinct. "My country right or wrong"'s the word. Not very conducive to rational discussion, this.

Yank on :

What a vivid imagination you have. You can psychobabble anything out of anything. Your reply is completely off the wall, not addressing head-on anything I said - just flying off at obtuse angles. It is all beside the point. People who have an answer to an argument don't just throw up a fog like that. No excuses for not stating your case. Don't just claim to have one you're not going to tell us. You apparantly know far less about America and the war than I know about Germany. Ha! YOU accuse Americans of using Germans as a scapegoat? Who says Germans have no sense of humor? You win, Black Knight: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~ebarnes/python/black-knight.htm

mbast on :

"Your reply is completely off the wall, not addressing head-on anything I said" Well, that might be because you didn't really say anything substantial that I could adress "head on". Let's take an example: "To administer Euros a dose of Euro medicine, this is where a yank gets to say something like the following: 'The minute anyone fails to sing your praises, you get mad. You can't take criticism.'" What could I reply to that except "No, you're wrong". I can't give you any counter-facts because you're not arguing facts, you're spewing stereotypes and gut feelings and general hatred of anything that doesn't conform to your rather crude view of the world in general. Nothing to do with "psychobabble", just with simple rules of logic. Say something substantial (like Don does, for example) and I might reply. Otherwise never mind. "You apparantly know far less about America and the war than I know about Germany." [i]Apparently[/i], that would be rather difficult. Anybody who tries to tell me that "the German people cold-heartedly look the other way and refuse to help others in need" shows me that he doesn't know the first thing about Germany and can't even begin to understand the complex reasons for the ongoing Afghanistan debate (especially if he's not really interested in understanding). I'm not going to repeat the last five or six decades of German history as well as the current socio-political context to you, go read a book.

Isolationist on :

In a few years...loud sucking sound...US will turn its back on Europe...etc. Turn its back on Europe--Lord, let's hope so, but why wait to go? Let's go now, now! Free at last! Free at last! I can think of no better reason to pop a cork than to have Old Europe off our backs. Besides, if Canadian Mark Styne is correct, there won't be any more Germnas left before long to be allied with anyway.

Zyme on :

Oh yeah, you will have to leave very soon. I don´t know this Styne-Guy - but have you heard of the secret pact we signed which binds every german to die until 2050, to make sure our islamist brothers can peacefully gain new territory to praise Allah? There are many preparations to be made for our own extinction though - and the last thing we need is a bunch of americans distracting us constantly. Please go home and enjoy the fruits your most glorious nation :D

Don S on :

What 'styne' (sic) guy, Zyme? Do you mean the Canadian Mark Steyn perchance? ;) I hadn't heard of any secret agreement for people of German ancestry to vacate the lands formerly known as Germany by 2050. There is a wee little demographic crisis in Germany - or so I am led to believe. Perhaps this has escaped your notice? I suppose it could be complete bullshit - it's difficult to judge.

Isolationist on :

Dom S, You are right. I did mean "Steyn" from Canada. Zyme, you might do well to read what Steyn has to say about Germany's future. He knows more about at as a Canadian than you do as a German! As he says, Old Europe will run out of Germans before it runs out of oil. Nice thought, that. And note, this time it's a Canadian who is distracting you, Zyme. I suppose you want him to go home too.

Zyme on :

"John Hawkins: Now, here's an even more relevant question: is there any plausible way you can see to get them [europeans] breeding again? Mark Steyn: Yes, I think you can. I think you have to do dramatic - effectively dramatic severely pro-"natalist" policies - which would mean, I think, you know, essentially slashing tax burdens on people with any kind of family, initiating policies that would make it easier to have a family home in those societies because it's also true that the U.S. is about the cheapest place in the world if you want to have a 3 bedroom house and a couple of kids on a big lot." Well there is a number of funding sources for families in germany already - and they are increased permanently. "Any way, other than the U.S., that's a very difficult thing to do. These are societies in which, you know, people live in very uncomfortable, pokey accommodations for the most part. So if you don't do something about that - you have to do something about education which would be to dramatically telescope education, say in effect the opposite of what all the bores say to us, you know, when they say the sort of Clinton line about how you want every American to go to college or the Howard Dean thing about how we need to restore the Pell Grants. No, you need to do the opposite. You need to start figuring out how to teach people up to about 15, 16, 17, 18 - rather than encouraging them to stay in school and wasting their time until advanced middle age." I guess there is nothing to add to this wise prophet´s visions :)

Bill on :

Good roundup of news coverage about the NATO Summit Jörg. Thanks. Saves me lot's of time. Boy, the words "coward" and "cowardice" really gets some of your readers riled up. Wonder why? Everybody experiences cowardice at least once in their lives and some people deal with it everyday. I will repeat that my original use of the term "cowardice" in a previous post does not apply to the vast majority of troops serving in the German military today, but to a certain political elite in Germany and to much of the German public. This cowardice I speak of is not only limited to foreign wars and combat missions in Afghanistan but extends to a wide range of issues facing the nation. Can't say that I have many typical American stereotypes of Germany and Germans so some of your readers can shove that argument. I've been here too long and have seen and heard and experienced too much to be labeled "typical". That may not be a very "sophistcated" way to express my thoughts here at your blog, but it is honest. Who knows, I could be flat wrong about the Germans, but I doubt it.

mbast on :

"Boy, the words "coward" and "cowardice" really gets some of your readers riled up. Wonder why?" Well, probably because nobody likes to be called a coward, especially when it's not true. How would [i]you[/i] react if I were to accuse the Americans of "moral cowardice" (strange term, that; is there any "amoral cowardice"?). Or better still, how about calling them "trigger-happy imerialists". No, I'm not saying that they are, but what if I did? You and any other American reading this would probably blow a fuse, and understandably so. "This cowardice I speak of is not only limited to foreign wars and combat missions in Afghanistan but extends to a wide range of issues facing the nation." Well, besides the Afghanistan issue, in what other ways are Germans "moral cowards"? "That may not be a very "sophistcated" way to express my thoughts here at your blog, but it is honest." We're not trying to be sophisticated. We're just trying to be rational as opposed to being gut-driven.

Don S on :

Mbast, I am uncomfortable with painting an entire nation as 'cowrds' or describing my nation as sonsisting completely of courageous people - when clearly we have our share of cowards as well. But.... What would you describe this as? Give us some words to use other than what you object to. "According to a local NGO, the German PRT reacted to its first major security test, the murder of 11 Chinese road workers in June 2004, by “locking the door from the inside,” and it is under orders from Berlin no to engage in any counter-drugs operations, even though Kunduz is one of Afghanistan’s biggest opium-producing areas." " It seems as if the policy which caused this to happen came from Berlin and not from the German soldiers on the ground. So what is there about the German politicians who set policies which seem to compromise any effectiveness in order to preserve the absolute safety of (German) soldier's lives. Even at the cost of allowing civilian's whose lives may have been savable to be butchered - and to allow Germany;s allies to fight hot battles without succor from Germans. I tell you what it looks like from the UK and North America - German lives are worth infinately more than British or American or Canadian lives. As Joerg points out the US needs allies. But we need effective and powerful allies - not allied 'troops' who leave the battle as twilight comes so they can fulfill a 'policy' that they must spend every evening safely behind walls....

Anonymous on :

Praised by Bush and Blair last week, but now: http://www.themoderatevoice.com/posts/1164800658.shtml Pakistan is urging NATO to surrender to the Taliban: Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops. Western ministers have been stunned. "Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently. The remarks were made on the eve of Nato's critical summit in Latvia. Lt Gen David Richards, the British general and Nato's force commander in Afghanistan, and the Dutch ambassador Daan Everts, its chief diplomat there, have spent five days in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, urging the Pakistani military to do more to reign in the Taliban. But they have received mixed messages.

joe on :

The comments made have been interesting as they provide wide ranging perspectives and perceptions. I keep waiting for some one to start commenting on what I think are the key issues. Since so much of the focus of the comments has been about Afghanistan, I will list some of the issues as I see them. The first of those is to define what is burden sharing and how does that translate to NATO in Afghanistan? How do you define success in Afghanistan? Is NATO command and control in Afghanistan effective? What role should national governments play once they commit their forces to NATO? Is Afghanistan becoming more about NATO and it future than about defeating the Taliban and stabilization in the country side? What will be the blow back should NATO fail in Afghanistan? The larger questions have to deal with public support for NATO. Why is this in decline? Can the current structure of NATO continue to work? I And the big question is does NATO matter and will it survive?

Bill on :

I'm with you Joe. Let's cut the name-calling BS and get down to business. I believe that Dr. Nile Gardiner raised some good points in his article "Time for Backbone in the Alliance". Some of what Gardiner points out overlaps with questions Joe has raised. For example in the paragraph titled "Afghanistan: A Test Case for NATO" he writes: The war in Afghanistan is likely to dominate discussions at the Riga summit. NATO took command of all peacekeeping operations throughout the country on September 28 and currently commands 32,800 troops from 37 nations.[1] The U.K.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) includes 11,800 troops from the United States, 6,000 British soldiers, 2,700 Germans, 2,500 Canadians, 2,000 Dutchmen, and 1,800 Italians. (An additional 8,000 Americans troops continue to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom, under separate U.S. command.) Since May, NATO forces have conducted a series of major military offensives against the Taliban in Afghanistan’s southern provinces involving largely British and Canadian troops. The Coalition has succeeded in killing over 1,000 insurgents in intense battle but has faced increasingly fierce resistance from a resurgent Taliban funded largely through the opium trade. Over 40 British soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan. General James Jones, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer have called for more reinforcements in the south of the country, but their requests have unfortunately fallen on deaf ears. NATO commanders are urging an additional 2,500 troops. But Germany, France, Turkey, Italy, and Spain have all rejected calls to send their own soldiers to support British, Canadian, and Dutch forces in the south, on the grounds that the situation is too dangerous and that they are “overstretched.” Only Poland has stepped forward, offering 1,000 additional soldiers, including 500 paratroopers. These troops are expected to deploy in February 2007.[2] Incredibly, several European contingents in Afghanistan are operating under up to 71 “caveats” designed to keep them out of harm’s way. German troops, for example, are confined to Kabul and the relatively peaceful north of the country, “except under exceptional circumstances and on a temporary basis.”[3] Some of the same countries that condemned America’s decision to liberate Iraq, claiming that it was a distraction from the securing of Afghanistan, are now refusing to pull their weight in the battle to keep the country free. Many major European Union countries are deploying militarily neutered forces in Afghanistan, commanded by lackluster political leaders petrified of the public reaction to troop casualties, and refusing to redeploy their soldiers to the south for military operations against the Taliban. This is a sorry spectacle that makes a mockery of Europe’s professed commitment to the war on terrorism. NATO is a war-fighting alliance, not a glorified peacekeeping group. My response: I agree. What the Hell kind of alliance is that? Sounds like a bunch of cowards to me. Or are they (Germany, Turkey, Spain, Italy, France) just being clever by holding back their combat support forces until a real emergency pops up? I also like the following recommendation from Nigel Gardiner concerning the Crisis in Darfur: Darfur: President Bush and Prime Minister Blair should call for an immediate meeting of key NATO allies in Washington or London to discuss the crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Up to 400,000 people have been killed by Sudanese-backed Janjaweed militias in barbaric acts of ethnic cleansing. The United States and the United Kingdom should support the establishment of a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Darfur, based on a coalition-of-the-willing strategy, in support of African Union peacekeepers. The West cannot rely upon an ineffective and morally ambivalent United Nations to take action over the biggest man-made humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century while tens of thousands of refugees face sustained attacks from Islamic militants. The U.N.’s track record in the face of genocide, from the killing fields of Rwanda to the “safe haven” of Srebrenica, has been one of appalling weakness and callous indifference in the face of human suffering. My response: Good idea, except that the call for intervention should come from ALL member nations in the NATO alliance, not just from the U.S. and the U.K. Never happen though. "Genocide? What genocide? Where?" Gardiner is a off-target with characterizing Omar al-Bashir's regime as "Islamic militants". The Islamists are the other guys in Khartoum and over in Mogadishu who are very anxious to overthrow Bashir's regime. Bashir is just an ordinary run-of-the-mill lowlife murderous despot with lots of backing from countries like Libya, Egypt, China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and a few European partners. Ooops.

mbast on :

"Let's cut the name-calling BS and get down to business." Yes, let's, by all means. "Sounds like a bunch of cowards to me." I thought we were going to cut the name-calling? "Or are they (Germany, Turkey, Spain, Italy, France) just being clever by holding back their combat support forces until a real emergency pops up?" I wouldn't know about Turkey, Spain and Italy, but I do know about France and Germany. For France, there are currently 1.100 French troops in Afghanistan proper and another 950 for "Enduring Freedom" (oops, I guess Dr. Gardiner seems to have conveniently forgotten about those), over 1.650 French troops in Lebanon (not counting the 150 crewmen of a French frigate operating off the coast of Lebanon with the German navy; no US forces there), 1.000 French troops in Congo (again, no US forces there), 3.600 in Ivory Coast (no US forces), 2.150 in Kosovo, 530 in Bosnia, 1.200 in Tchad (next to Darfour, ready to be deployed in Darfour if the UN should ask for it), plus some 1.000 troops deployed in other locations for international peacekeeping/nationbuilding missions. All in all there are around 13.300 french troops deployed in operational missions around the globe. For Germany, German forces are currently deployed in: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Congo, Erithrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Bosnia, Kosovo, Georgia. All in all we're talking about approximately 9.000 troops deployed in operations. Considering the admittedly meagre deployment capacities, that means sending more troops will considerably stretch Frances and Germanys capacities. It's not that it can't be done, it's just that we'd be stretching it. I don't deny you could indeed send more troops to Afghanistan, but again, what is the point if you don't have a concise plan for rebuilding the whole thing? And that's the one thing NATO is not cut out to do, being a military organization: nation building. Cf. my above post. Neither Germany nor France should get bogged down in a disaster similar to Iraq where there was no reconstruction plan worthy of the name until only very recently. I suspect if there was a coordinated effort to rebuild, to rid the country of corruption and drug trade, then Germany and France might send troops. As for Darfur: funny, I was under the impression that it was China and Russia who were refusing to pass resolutions, not Germany. "....with lots of backing from countries like and a few European partners. Ooops." Care to substantiate that accusation?

Bill on :

Good to see that you have a sense of humour mbast. Re: your statement: "For Germany, German forces are currently deployed in: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Congo, Erithrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Horn of Africa, Bosnia, Kosovo, Georgia. All in all we're talking about approximately 9.000 troops deployed in operations. " The EUFOR RDC (Kinshasa, Congo mission) is officially over as of yesterday. All EUFOR troops are heading home (about 2000 troops stationed in the DRC and in Gabon). German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung has declared the mission "a resounding success". The Congolese and many who closely follow news and events in the DRC are taking a wait-and-see attitude. Will the EUFOR RDC troops come back in a hurry to protect the citizens of the DRC if fighting breaks out again? Answer: NO. Ref: Spiegel Intl. - European Peacekeepers Begin Congo Withdrawal - Nov 30, 2006. http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,451570,00.html Eritrea is about to go to war (again) with its neighbor Ethiopia and the opening rounds are already taking place in Somalia. Sudan along with a 1/2 dozen other countries is involved with supplying arms and logistics to the Islamic Courts militias in Somalia AND on Monday this week clashes between the GoS troops and the former SPLA forces in southern Sudan (Malakal) left hundreds dead, maybe more. UN and EU forces are no where near any of these crisis flash points, and will definately not come to the rescue of anyone there "in an emergency". You cannot keep the peace when there is no peace to be kept. In stating "the Horn of Africa" you must mean the German forces stationed in Djibouti (a handful of special forces, how many? 10-20?) and the Marine (Navy) patrolling the sea up to the Suez Canal and south to Mombasa, Kenya in order to help protect oil tankers traveling to Europe and beyond AND to keep an eye out for seaborne Islamic terrorists. The intercepting terrorist part of the mission isn't working out so well which is evidenced by the regular traffic between Yemen & Saudi Arabia to Somalia and Sudan of weapons, munitions, and jihadists. The Somali pirates operating in the area have been more-or-less reigned in by the U.S. Navy and the Kenyan military to my knowledge. Re: which European countries are involved with supporting the government of Sudan? Answer: ask Jörg. He's up to speed on this subject as well as I am. Maybe better. Siemens, Nokia, ABB, etc. etc. etc. Coca-Cola, John Deere, ... Ooopps. German forces may start exiting Bosnia-Herzegovina as early as next year according to a statment made by German Defense Minister Jung back in October 2006. Boy, that should free-up a lot of troops. Ref: Speigel Intl. - "Does Germany Need an Exit Strategy? - Oct 31, 2006. http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,445734,00.html Lebanon is on the verge of collapse (again) as thousands of Hezbollah and pro-Syria supporters have hit the streets today in protest against the present government. If they succeed in toppling PM Fouad Siniora's government through force, the UNAMIL mission will most likely be suspended until the smoke clears. The German Navy patrolling the Mediterranean off the coast of Lebanon have a quick exit route in case all Hell breaks loose. Or will they stay to help stabilize the country in case of civil war? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6197992.stm I can agree with you (and Jörg) that Afghanistan needs a change in strategy and in tactics for some of the problems its facing. But at the same time someone needs to defeat or at least suppress the various groups trying desperately to overthrow the elected government in Afghanistan. It seems to me that Germany and other European NATO member countries may not be stretched so thin after all in the coming months. Wait and see.

mbast on :

@Bill: sorry for the late reply. Real life intrudes from time to time ;-). About EUFOR RDC: yeah, well, the mission objective has been reached, hasn't it? EUFOR was there to prevent bloodshed after the elections, and it accomplished its mission. So it's withdrawing now. If there's further trouble, well, if they get another mandate they'll be back. Where's the cowardice in that? About Eritrea/Ethiopia: got a UN mandate? No? Didn't think so. And I was talking about Darfur, actually, not Eritrea and Ethiopia. There are European troops stationed in the region. Like I said, to my knowledge, there are French troops in Tchad (next to Darfur) and in Djibouti, right next to Eritrea and Ethiopia (notably the 13ème DBLE, Thirteenth half-bigade of the FFL; essentially those are the French "Desert Rats"). RE: European countries involved in Sudan: "Siemens, Nokia, ABB, etc. etc. etc. Coca-Cola, John Deere," Two things: which of these is a European "country"? And Coca-Cola, John Deere? Not exactly European firms, are they? As for Lebanon: so what's your argument? That the Europeans are cowards because they might possibly withdraw in the case of a government change in Lebanon (as opposed to the Americans who weren't even there)? Would you at least consider waiting to call the Europeans cowards until they actually do withdraw?

Bill on :

Mbast, it is apparent to me that you have not read the EUFOR-RDC Mission Statement or the UN Resolution 1671 that is the legal basis for the mission. Therefore, go over to the EUFOR RDC website and educate yourself. Start with the mission backgrounder, it's only four pages long. EUFOR RDC website http://www.consilium.europa.eu/cms3_fo/showPage.asp?id=1091&lang=EN No, the "mission" was not accomplished because the danger of civil strife in Kinshasa and in other major cities across the country after these elections still remains a very high probability. The EUFOR RDC mission was not just about providing security assistance for the Congolese government, the MONUC mission members and various Europeans living and working in Kinshasa. It was never about protecting the Congolese people before, during, and after the elections. Eritrea/Ethiopia??? I believe I was talking about Somalia and Sudan where you (or Jörg) stated that German "peacekeepers" are working at present. However, the whole Horn of Africa region is going up in flames in a hurry. The French air force and ground troops stationed in Chad are actually engaged in combat missions against Khartoum-sponsored militias operating in that country and in the CAR (Central African Republic). No backup from the EU for the French military in Chad...yet. U.S. military forces are busy in Djibouti, Somalia, and Ethiopia and Kenya from what I have been reading. Rebuilding and humanitarian work with a bit of special forces training on the side. Siemens, ABB, Nokia are just three of the many European mulitinational corporations and smaller companies that are actively supporting the Khartoum regime through trade. Coca-Cola and John Deere are U.S. based multinationals which are restricted from doing business in Sudan. These two U.S. companies get around the sanctions by trading via their European and Middle Eastern subsidiaries and partner firms. But you already know that, don't you? Lebanon??? Any day now before that deal comes undone. Does the UN Resolution 1701 cover what to do in case the government you are protecting collapses from within? Maybe it is in the UNIFIL mission backgrounder somewhere near the back. @Joe No Joe, this is not just about NATO.

mbast on :

"Mbast, it is apparent to me that you have not read the EUFOR-RDC Mission Statement or the UN Resolution 1671 that is the legal basis for the mission. Therefore, go over to the EUFOR RDC website and educate yourself. Start with the mission backgrounder, it's only four pages long." Right, ok, let's see: the title of the corresponding EU council resolution is "on the European Union military operation in support of the United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) during the election process". And then, in the UN Security Resolution, besides finding the word "election" in every second paragraph, I read stuff like: " Decides that the authorization for deployment mentioned in para. 2 above shall not exceed MONUCs mandate and will be subject beyond 30 september 2006 to the extention of MONUCs mandate." Hmmm. It's not about the elections, then? Interesting. Could've sworn... Probably they all missed something in the Security Council and the European Council as well. And I suppose the fact the UN mandate has expired after the elections is completely irrelevant as well, eh? Do yourself a favor: actually read the links you post before you start lecturing people, ok. And incidentally, to get back to the point, how does all this prove your theory that Europeans are all cowards? "Eritrea/Ethiopia??? I believe I was talking about Somalia and Sudan where you (or Jörg) stated that German "peacekeepers" are working at present. However, the whole Horn of Africa region is going up in flames in a hurry. The French air force and ground troops stationed in Chad are actually engaged in combat missions against Khartoum-sponsored militias operating in that country and in the CAR (Central African Republic). No backup from the EU for the French military in Chad...yet. U.S. military forces are busy in Djibouti, Somalia, and Ethiopia and Kenya from what I have been reading. Rebuilding and humanitarian work with a bit of special forces training on the side." Ok, Let's run with your assumption that French troops are engaged in combat missions in Tchad and thus can't be sent into Darfur or Eritrea/Ethiopia (an assumption that's actually wrong, but what the heck): French troops are not European troops? Man, I'm stunned. When did we leave the EU, then? Again, how in the world do you see any indication of "European moral cowardice" in that? "Siemens, ABB, Nokia are just three of the many European mulitinational corporations and smaller companies that are actively supporting the Khartoum regime through trade. Coca-Cola and John Deere are U.S. based multinationals which are restricted from doing business in Sudan. These two U.S. companies get around the sanctions by trading via their European and Middle Eastern subsidiaries and partner firms. But you already know that, don't you?" Nope, I didn't. So when American firms (run by Americans) trade with Sudan, it's not their fault. It's the EU's fault. Yippeee, we got a scapegoat again! And since you didn't answer my question the first time around: how are all these firms "European countries" and how do they support the Sudanese government?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Bill @ mbast I agree with mbast on the Congo mission. Bill, I understand and respect that you would like the EU to do more in Congo (and in Africa in general), but we did not sign up for any more jobs than what mbast described and quoted. Besides, why are there no US troops in Congo or in Darfur? The EU does not do much, but at least we have supported the UN in Congo a little bit. Besides, there are some European troops as part of the UN troops in Congo. Yes, we Europeans have not sent many troops to Darfur, but at least there are some. Besides, some Scandinavian countries have already pledged some troops for a UN mission to Darfur. Germany is talking about it now, since the Bundeswehr returns from Congo. Where are the US troops? American politicians, American newspapers and American NGOs have been louder than the Europeans in criticizing Darfur and calling it a genocide etc, but America does not match all this noise with actions. Europe doesn't help Darfur much, but we are silent in shame. America doesn't do much, but talks loudly. Okay, that's an exaggeration. Talking loudly is good, blabla. Anyway, this post was supposed to be about NATO. I have recommended a few essays on Darfur in this post from Sunday: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/521-Human-Rights-Day-Various-Opinions-on-Helping-Darfur.html[/url] "Siemens, ABB, Nokia are just three of the many European mulitinational corporations" I guess, "multinational" means that they are not just European. Why is there a divestment campaign in the US targetting these campanies? Because American pension and university funds have invested in them, i.e. those companies are partly owned by Americans. Not just by Europeans. If Americans were not involved, then there would not be a divestment campaign in the US. I think we should have such divestment campaigns in Europe as well. And we should boycott the Olympic Games, if China does not change its policy on Sudan. The Olympics are very important to China, thus a threat to boykott the Games could go a long way. "Coca-Cola and John Deere are U.S. based multinationals which are restricted from doing business in Sudan. These two U.S. companies get around the sanctions by trading via their European and Middle Eastern subsidiaries and partner firms. But you already know that, don't you?" US companies are not any better than European companies. (Besides, many big "European" companies have US shareholders and US subsidiaries. And many big "US" companies have European shareholders and subsidiaries. Thus it is not so easy to label them these days by nationality.) US laws, however, are better (just my opinion), because they disallow trade with Sudan. Sure, US companies find a way around, so the US law is not all that effective. It's a truism that sanctions only have a decent chance of working, if they are applied by many actors, not just one. I am in favor of trade sanctions (except food and medicine) against Sudan, Iran etc. "And since you didn't answer my question the first time around: how are all these firms "European countries" and how do they support the Sudanese government?" The question was for Bill. And I am looking forward to Bill's response. My take is: Via taxes etc. Besides, Mercedes sells vehicles in Sudan. Siemens and Nokia provide telecommunication. That helps the many bad guys on all sides, but not the refugees.

joe on :

So NATO is not the topic.

mbast on :

"So NATO is not the topic." Well, let's say NATO isn't the [i]only[/i] topic. Though I tend to agree that NATO will have a hard time of it, not just because of the naughty, naughty Europeans who keep on freeloading on the heroic American efforts all the time, but also because of the fact the the US insist on keeping absolute control of the organisation. In this respect, it's similar to the ICC problem, actually.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Bill You support Gardiner's call for a NATO intervention in Darfur, and you disagree with his description of Omar al-Bashir's regime as "Islamic militants". I think this is typical. There are sooooo many folks like Gardiner, who call for military interventions in countries they do not know anything about. This is dangerous! They have completely misread Iraq, but that does not stop them from sending other people's children into countries they don't know anything about. NATO struggles with Afghanistan. Germany has made a commitment to ISAF. Germany is responsible for the police training and for the entire North of Afghanistan. And Germany has to help NATO allies in the South. Thus, [b]Germany has to do a lot now to live up to its promises and responsibilities in Afghanistan. [/b] Where do you see resources to take on Darfur as well? I don't see any. I think Germany should focus on a few missions and do all we can to make difference rather than participate in many missions with a half-hearted commitment due to lack of resources and political will Besides, US interventions in Iraq and Somalia serve as constant reminders for Germans like me to be skeptical about humanitarian missions. If America had succeeded in Somalia and Iraq, then Germans would be more optimistic about helping the folks in Darfur. Moreover, you have not responded to mbast's questions about US involvements in Africa. Where are US troops on that continent? Are you supporting any elections with a few thousand troops somewhere? France, Germany and other European countries supported the UN in Congo for the run up to the two rounds of elections in Congo. You criticize that Germany does not stay longer. Well, there never was a plan to stay longer. The Congo mission is the first mission with a clear exit strategy. If you want to convince Germans (and other Europeans) to participate in an international peace-keeping or peace-enforcement or nation building mission, then you have to tell us a) why that is in our interest and worth risking the lives of our soldiers, b) what the specific goals are, c) how we can achieve those goals. I guess, those are the same questions you need to answer to convince Americans to send their sons and daughters into harms way. Just talking about saving lives, promoting freedom and fighting evil-doers, just does not convince anyone about the feasibility of such a mission. [b]@ Joe[/b] I appreciate the questions you asked. The first one was "How do you define success in Afghanistan?" Good question. When I raised that issue in another post, you deflected from this question and started talking about ill-defined goals in Kosovo. How would you answer that question? What are the goals? "Deafeating the Taliban" is too abstract. You need to be more precise. How does a defeat look like? How should Afghanistan look like, when we can withdraw? Do we want full democracy? Or do we want a non-democratic loose federation of the various tribes and ethnic groups? What is America doing to stop Afghans from joining the "Taliban"? I have used quotation marks, because most newspapers refer to "the Taliban" to describe all groups, who fight against Western troops in Afghanistan. Fact is that not all of them are Taliban. The US, UK, Canadian and other NATO and OEF troops managed to alienate not just the Taliban. This brings me back to Gardiner, who does not understand Sudan, but calls for a military intervention anyway. Most Americans and Europeans do not understand Afghanistan very well, because the media coverage is awful. There is too much focus on Iraq. Too few journalists in Afghanistan etc. Anybody who calls for sending troops into far away countries, should at least have some understanding of the conflicts in those countries.

ADMIN on :

Please note that by default the comments in this blog are threaded rather than linear, i.e. some of the latest responses to comments are not at the bottom, but in the middle of the thread right behind the comment they respond to. At the top of the comments section you have the option to change the view from threaded to linear (=chronological), which enables you to see the latest comments at the end of the thread.

Add Comment

E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.
CAPTCHA

Form options