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Afghanistan: NATO-Crisis Gets Worse

The NATO mission in Afghanistan has been a big topic this week. While the German media was full of concern about providing 250 Bundeswehr soldiers for a Quick Reaction Force (No, I did not forget another zero.), US and Canadian politicians and think tanks sounded alarm over developments in Afghanistan.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has urged his German counterpart in a one-and-a-half-page-long letter to "send an additional 3,200 troops to Afghanistan," reports the Associated Press. The German press does not mention this number, which would be a doubling of the current German contingent. The media focuses on Gates' request for Germany to send combat troops to Southern Afghanistan. The answer from all German parties in the Bundestag is basically: "Njet. Forget it." The Bundestag's has only authorized the government to send up to 3,500 troops to Afghanistan. And that's the end of the story in most media outlets.

Besides, the German media and politicians consider already the new commitment of 250 Bundeswehr soldiers for the Quick Reaction Force (QFR) in Northern Afghanistan a major step towards a more combative role. The Bundeswehr is supposed to replace the Norwegian contingent.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Britain and the US that Canada would withdraw its 2,500 soldiers in Kandahar unless other NATO countries send another 1,000 soldiers to the operation.

And there is even more concern, anxiety and pressure: The Atlantic Council of the United States just published the study: Saving Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action (pdf):

Make no mistake, Nato is not winning in Afghanistan. Unless this reality is understood and action is taken promptly, the future of Afghanistan is bleak, with regional and global impact. The purpose of this paper is to sound the alarm and to propose specific actions that must be taken now if Afghanistan is to succeed in becoming a secure, safe and functioning state.

Also this week, the Afghanistan Study Group of the Center for the Study of the Presidency released the critical report Revitalizing our Efforts, Rethinking our Strategies.

The Christian Science Monitor has a good round-up and writes that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed criticism of the White House approach on Afghanistan.

Victoria Nuland, the US ambassador to NATO, writes in the Washington Post that NATO "is facing the greatest challenge in its 59-year history."

The alliance that never fired a shot in the Cold War is learning on the job. Just as the Iraq war forced adaptation in American military and development tactics and strategy, the Afghanistan mission is forcing changes in NATO. With each passing month, Canadians, Germans, Poles, Spaniards, Latvians and our other allies learn more about what it takes to wage a 21st-century counterinsurgency -- a combined civil-military effort that puts warriors side by side with development workers, diplomats and police trainers. Whether flying helicopters across the desert, embedding trainers with the Afghans, conducting tribal shuras with village elders or running joint civilian-military Provincial Reconstruction Teams, most of our allies are reinventing the way they do business. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates made clear last month, this requires new training, new equipment, a new doctrine and new flexibility in combining civil and military efforts in a truly comprehensive approach to security. The next three to five years will be crucial for the people of Afghanistan, for the NATO alliance and for the community of democracies.

Related posts in the Atlantic Review: Military Leaders Outline Plan for New Transatlantic Bargain and Transatlantic Bickering over Afghanistan.

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Elisabetta on :

If y'all need some money, we have some spare mortgage-backed securities funds we would be happy to sell...

David on :

Why should Germany be bullied by the Bush administration, which will be gone anyway in less than a year? There is no popular support in Germany for the Nato mission in Afghanistan. The polls I've seen show only 29% of Germans are in favor. And it is not clear that the Afghans want more foreign combat troops on their soil. [url=http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C01%5C31%5Cstory_31-1-2008_pg1_3]Here is Karzai last week in Berlin[/url]: "BERLIN: President Hamid Karzai said on Wednesday training the Afghan police and army was more important than sending more foreign troops to the country. “More than anything else, we need help to rebuild our human capital and our institutions, our army, our police force, our administrative structure, our judiciary and so on,” Karzai told Die Welt. “Although the situation has finally improved, the unintentional bombing of Afghan civilians by NATO and US troops is particularly painful, although it stems from a lack of ground troops. “However, I am not sure that sending more troops is the right answer."

Kyle Atwell on :

"Why should Germany be bullied by the Bush administration, which will be gone anyway in less than a year?" This is the kind of statement I would expect to hear regarding Iraq, not Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not a US mission supported by a haphazard "coalition of the willing"... it is here by popular demand - at least it had popular European support at the outset.

Nanne on :

You can't easily separate Afghanistan and Iraq (or Afghanistan from the other missions the Europeans are engaged in, for that matter). Certainly not when the US administration claims they're both part of the same overarching war on terror. The problem with waiting Bush out on Afghanistan is of course that the war will not wait. At the same time, the Bush administration is standing in the way of possible structural solutions, which involve dealing with the Taliban.

David on :

Agreed, but my sense is that many have lost faith in the US emphasis on military action at the expense of "nation building" activities. The American approach has not been effective - indeed the Taliban are resurgent, with the support of the local population. Why should Germany buy into a losing strategy?

Kyle Atwell on :

If Germany does not want to "buy" into a losing strategy, then it should "pay" for a winning one. I suspect there is a positive correlation between the number, location, and engagement of troops in Afghanistan, and the amount of influence they will have on strategy. From what I understand, German troops are burdened by several "caveats", and they are located in the relatively passive North. If Germany wants more influence on strategy, earn it!

Don S on :

Yes, that's exactly correct. It's extremely easy to quibble endlessly and never do anything at all. It can be cheap and gratifying also, at least if one is able to convince oneself that doing little or nothing is really the moral course. Convincing one's allies of that? Aye, that's the rub sirs!

Pat Patterson on :

Germany can't be bullied by the US, except it's being the bully, into Afghanistan for two reasons. The first being that it's obvious by now that Germany will give no more than lip service to its NATO obligations and the second being that you can't bully someone who essentially has already been chased out of Afghanistan. Like the Gulf War, like wealthy draftees during the American Civil War, Germany has merely paid for someone else to do its fighting. Japan did the same thing in the Gulf War but oddly the public considered the payment of $10 billion a humiliating indication of its lack of its status as a completely rehabilitated nation. Kyle has hit the nail on the head "If Germay wants more influence on strategy, earn it." I would add that unless Germany at least operates successfully at a tactical level then it will continue to be treated by the US, Canada and Britain with official politeness and private scorn.

Pat Patterson on :

Lost part of the first sentence which should have read, "..., except its NATO being the bully..."

harmless on :

You make it sound like Germany and Japan paid blood money to stay out of the first Gulf War. Fact is, constitutional limitations prevented both Japan and Germany from taking part in the war. Military action was permitted only in self-defense, and the first Gulf War was anything but. So Japan and Germany did the next best thing they could, short of changing their constitutions at the drop of a hat, and provided funds or logistic support. I guess not a lot of people care to remember that.

N. S. Sherlock on :

There are 160,000 US troops in Iraq and 30,000 in Afghanistan. So, there's no question where the US government's priorities are. The present "freedom fries" American administration has a credibility problem. Afghanistan is a side show. It's no wonder Germans aren't interested in increasing their commitment in Afganistan. As for Mr. Harper, he's just being the monkey for Mr-organ-grinder Gates. I'm sure he won't find any IED fodder in Europe this year, and the Canadians won't leave Kandahar. Perhaps Mr. Harper will have to find his 1000 troops here in Canada. regards

Elisabetta on :

If you invoke a mutual defense treaty and refuse to fight, means you dont respect the agreement or your allies-- simple, as that. The entire situation strikes me as odd from the moment Schroeder acquiesced to invoking Article 5 to Merkel's current cavalier and dismissive rhetoric about the troop request. This is not Iraq and Hamburg knows how easily a foreigner trained in Afghanistan can blend in the local unassimilated minorities and emerge a destructive force. As long as the Gulf region can pump excess profits into Salafist projects, any safe harbour potentially affects the world. If Germany would like to become a rich Austria, you are welcome to it. But you will be treated, whenever noticed, like Austrians.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

For how much longer can the US refer to article 5? Isn't there a point in time that you cannot any longer say this is about a response to an attack in 2001? Just legally speaking? Not politically. In fact, I believe the US government is [b]not [/b]telling its allies, listen fellows, you have to send troops because NATO invoked article 5 in 2001. I think this argument is made usually by non-lawyers in the blogosphere, who mean solidarity and loyalty and all the other things that are in the spirit of NATO rather than the legal obligations of article 5. And for good reasons. I don't have a problem with that. I think Germany is not practicing solidarity with the US, the Dutch, the Canadians, the British etc in Afghanistan. I am just asking, whether article 5 is really the basis to make this argument. Some German politicians and journalists write that Germany shall not send combat troops to the South, because there is not a UN mandate (true?) and article 5 does not work anymore because too much time has past and the Taliban are not running Afghanistan anymore. Article 5 is about defense of NATO territory rather than about bringing democracy and stuff to Afghanistan...

Elisabetta on :

For how much longer can the US refer to article 5? Isn't there a point in time that you cannot any longer say this is about a response to an attack in 2001? Just legally speaking? Not politically. In fact, I believe the US government is not telling its allies, listen fellows, you have to send troops because NATO invoked article 5 in 2001. Of course not, Joerg, that would endanger the NATO alliance. The US if you remember was against the NATO Council voting to invoke Article 5 from the beginning becuase they had an notion some similiar to our present situation might/probably would arise. As for the legality of Germany's performance, per its treaty obligations, serious public international lawyers do not raise the issue because the NATO treaty does contain a lot of wriggle room. Article 5's mention of the 'use of the force', which is incorporated not created by the UN Charter, is subject to the continuing approval of the SC and the invocation of Article 5 only obligates the signatory State to provide such action as it deems necessary. Moreover, Article 2 and 7 impose an affirmative duty on signatories to act in concert with and according to the positive development of the post UN world political system. http://www.nato.int/docu/basictxt/treaty.htm. Outside a Chapter 7 resolution to the contrary, one can not say that Germany has violated its treaty obligations. It has done what it deemed necessary, but are over-flight rights and a few thousand non-combat troops in Afghanistan any type of response from a mutual defense treaty? I am just asking, whether article 5 is really the basis to make this argument. Arguing Article 5 publically forces the question of the continued utility and advisability of retaining the NATO treaty to the fore so politicans never raise it. There is no treaty-based mechanism for adjudicating non-compliance with the NATO treaty. Does Germany's meagre participation in Afghanistan feel violative of the mutual defense treaty? Most Americans would say, yes; Germans, probably no. As a corrollary, did France violate its defense treaty with Poland in '39? No. The military build-up in Elsa did tie up some German divisions that otherwise could have gone to Poland, but your average Pole is in no hurry to depend on France to safeguard his national integrity. Some German politicians and journalists write that Germany shall not send combat troops to the South, because there is not a UN mandate (true?) and article 5 does not work anymore because too much time has past and the Taliban are not running Afghanistan anymore. There is a UN mandate for NATO participation in Afghanistan. What the German politicans are referring to is an explicit UNSC resolution allowing a German military action in the south. There isnt one to my knowledge; however, considering that there are multiple chapter 7 mandates authorizing NATO military action in Afghanistan is a UNSC chapter 7 resolution really necessary to legalize German military action within a NATO force? I would say no and most people consider that line of reasoning sophistic. However if the German foreign ministry truly believes that their military deployment is constrained, per Article 2 and 7 of the NATO treaty, by the need to support the current interpretation of public international law which demands in their eyes a specific UNSC resolution for every military action, who can say, according to NATO treaty terms, that is incorrect? It is a plausibly legitimate legal argument. Not very convincing, but it gets published. Article 5 is about defense of NATO territory rather than about bringing democracy and stuff to Afghanistan... Read Article 5 and 6 of the treaty.

Don S on :

"your average Pole is in no hurry to depend on France to safeguard his national integrity. " Correct. And after 2003 your average American is in no hurry to depend on France to safeguard anything. Or Germany, Begiun, . Moreover, I think that after 2003 the average German should not realistically be in a hurry to trust the US to safeguard his national integrity - should it come to that. The US might just invoke clause 5 and sent 3000 garrison troops to Sylt or someplace similar - a long way from the front and easily evacuable. Why? Why not? A precedent has been set.....

franchie on :

"your average Pole is in no hurry to depend on France to safeguard his national integrity. " Correct. And after 2003 your average American is in no hurry to depend on France to safeguard anything. Or Germany, Begiun" kinda an obsession on France there, why should we defend the Poles that are not our proxy neighbours, our playground is Africa. I am afraid to contradict you for the second sentence ; let'see, in Africa, that's not what are saying your compatriots : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cH4XRvz1v40&eurl=http://superfrenchie.com/

Don S on :

Why should France defend Poland? Apart from them both being in the EU, not a single reason I can think of. Why should the US defend France (or Germany, Poland, etc? I can't think of a single reason. We should switch sides and back Russia.

franchie on :

yeah, but I doubt that Putin would see that as a"hug"

Don S on :

Doubt if Putin (or whomever the Russian President is now) is looking for hugs from Bush, Although Putin might well display more savoire-faire than Merkel did if he were bestowed such a dubious gift. So would Sarko; almost anyone would I think.# Except Zapatero of course. He probably would drop dead from shock!

franchie on :

apparently Sarko did : "Newspaper reports in France have suggested that 700 of its paratroopers could be sent to the south" The independant 350 "Marsouins" to Chad as well, uh where does he find them ? :lol:

Don S on :

"kinda an obsession on France there," But of COURSE, franchie! We always obsess on France when we're not obsessing on the Brits or the Russians. And France always obsesses on the US when the Germans aren't threatening to rip Alsace/Lorraine away. ;) Personally I think the French are correct on many thing. British cuisine being one. I live in London because I love the theatre, not because of the food. Which is execrable even by US standards. I'd far rather live in Paris if I could find work there. Sigh......

Zyme on :

"concern about providing 250 Bundeswehr soldiers for a Quick Reaction Force (No, I did not forget another zero.)" Now this line perfectly sums up the current issue. While one may think 250 soldiers is little, one also misjudges the paradigm shift going on here. A country with a totally isolationist military policy up until the mid 1990s isn´t going to become an aggressively interventionist country in a matter of a few years. The public has to be accustomed to combat missions in other continents - and american accusations are highly counter productive for our public support. But what I find most striking is that to our american "friends", the german can do no right. Whenever germans underscored their own foreign policy with their military, the americans didn´t like it. Though we shouldn´t have any illusions here: If it was a genuinely german foreign policy to be conducted in South Afghanistan, the americans would not like the idea of german soldiers fighting even today. But it is exactly this kind of constellation that they are provoking in the long term by encouraging our government to become more interventionist. How naive do the responsible political elites in Washington have to be to assume that german and american vital interests will always be concordant? I wonder what Roosevelt would think of this.

Pat Patterson on :

When, obviously since World War II, has Germany acted with military and political means and found that Americans didn't like it? As to Roosevelt, I'm assuming FDR, he simply signed agreements with the UK and sent the US Navy and the Coast Guard off on convoy duty and anti-submarine patrols in the North Atlantic as well as sending the FBI to spy on German consular officals in the US and against German subversion in South Ameica, all without a Declaration of War. And then had his Secreatary of State dissemble in front of Congress. I missed that part of the NATO Charter that must say something to the effect that individual articles when invoked simply become nonoperative when one side considers them boring and out of date. But I do agree that it is futile to constantly bring up either of the pertinent articles, either in public or in private, as Germany is simply incapable of acting due to its domestic political and philosphical inertia. If Germany can vote to authorize sending 3,900 troops to Afghanistan under the auspices of NATO in 2001 then it obviously could have done the same thing in 1990 unless there was some kind of either radical reinterpretation of its constitution or without informing parliament the Illuminati edited that same constitution to allow overseas adventures.

Zyme on :

"If Germany can vote to authorize sending 3,900 troops to Afghanistan under the auspices of NATO in 2001 then it obviously could have done the same thing in 1990 unless there was some kind of either radical reinterpretation of its constitution or without informing parliament the Illuminati edited that same constitution to allow overseas adventures." You got it. No joke - a radical reinterpretation of the constitution by our constitutional court in 1994 cleared the road. And from that on, the constant decline of public interest in military affairs, continously freed the hands of the government.

Pat Patterson on :

Ouch! I find myself uncomfortably perched upon that fabled petard!

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Zyme Germany is not asked to become "an aggressively interventionist country in a matter of a few years." We are just replacing a few hundred troops from Norway. NORWAY! It's not the land of the aggressive, interventionist vikings... Besides, the Berlin Wall fell 18 years ago. Plenty of time to change policy and mentality at least a little bit. How much have you changed in 18 years? A few years ago, I was still buying this thesis of Germany can't reform faster because of the Holocaust etc, but now I think it is just a lame excuse for not sending troops into harms way. I think honesty is required: If German politicians amd journalists and blog commenters think that Afghanistan is not the worth to risk the lives of soldiers, then they should say so rather than saying that transformation of policy and mentality could not possibly go faster.

Zyme on :

"We are just replacing a few hundred troops from Norway. NORWAY!" Don´t mix it up. This is not disputed among the governing elites. Rather than that, it is the support for allies in the south that is generally rejected and causes this crisis, as you called it. "then they should say so rather than saying that transformation of policy and mentality could not possibly go faster" Ok this is my personal explanation. "If German politicians amd journalists and blog commenters think that Afghanistan is not the worth to risk the lives of soldiers, then they should say so" And this is exactly what the majority thinks and says. Do you expect our government to constantly act against the will of the electorate? I´m afraid the closer we get to our next general elections, the less it will want to do so. The journalists you criticise are simply distinguishing North Afghanistan from the South. They want our soldiers to continue their strategy in the North and use combat units only to protect this effort. What they don´t want is to move to the South and clean up behind the other Allies. Instead of a wild anglo-saxon terrorist hunting, they prefer creating stability and mainting it at least in one region rather than risking this one as well. You could say there is a major difference in doctrine that causes all this trouble in the alliance. While some nations like to constantly rush to the biggest fire and neglect the smaller ones, we prefer putting out smaller ones in an area and then try to keep it safe.

Kyle Atwell on :

"Instead of a wild anglo-saxon terrorist hunting, they prefer creating stability and mainting it at least in one region rather than risking this one as well. You could say there is a major difference in doctrine that causes all this trouble in the alliance. While some nations like to constantly rush to the biggest fire and neglect the smaller ones, we prefer putting out smaller ones in an area and then try to keep it safe." Who wouldn't prefer to do that? Being a good ally is not about picking the easiest most "feel-good" missions, but also takingon the hard missions when you are needed as well. There are plenty of countries who are capable of stabilizing the north, but winning in Afghanistan is also going to require stabilizing the south of the country. I think Americans are frustated with Germany largely because American's believe German's feel they are doing a more noble task and have a better doctrine then the cowboy anglo-Americans and their crazy Canadian (?) and Dutch (?) renegade friends. But I tell you, the north wouldn't look so pretty if there were not Allies fighting in the south. And then where would Germany run off too...?

Volker on :

"Germany is not asked to become "an aggressively interventionist country in a matter of a few years."" By sending troops with the explicit order to fight, we will become exactly that. "We are just replacing a few hundred troops from Norway. NORWAY! It's not the land of the aggressive, interventionist vikings..." It doesn't matter if we replace 250 or 2.500 and it doesn't matter if we replace Norway or "Napoleons France", with sending these Troops our foreign and military policy will heavily shift to an interventionist side. "Besides, the Berlin Wall fell 18 years ago. Plenty of time to change policy and mentality at least a little bit. How much have you changed in 18 years?" Didn't we do that, in 1990 no one would have thought it possible that we send troops abroad. Now, 18 years later, we have some 10.000 soldiers stationed around the globe, sorry but I call that a huge change in policy and mentality. "I think honesty is required: If German politicians amd journalists and blog commenters think that Afghanistan is not the worth to risk the lives of soldiers, then they should say so rather than saying that transformation of policy and mentality could not possibly go faster." It isn't the politicians who are against risking lives of soldiers, it is the electorate who is against it. Our politicians would, if they wouldn't fear the backlash, send more troops to afghanistan maybe even Iraq. But that would mean that there careers would be over faster than they could say "But we have to help our allies!".

Don S on :

"sorry but I call that a huge change in policy and mentality." It may well be a change in policy, but clearly not in national mentality. That is the problem in a nutshell. Although I HAVE seen a large shift in the German public mentality since 1990. Germans seem to wish to make the policy for the whole of NATO, and are clearly in favor of throwing NATO into gridlock in order to get their way. This might wear better if Germans were willing to provide something like the proportional effort that members like the UK, US, and Canada do, but they do not. In fact, the last decade has seen a strong policy of diminuation of Germany's capabilities coupled with a much louder German voice in driving NATO policy, or attempting to. Unfortunately alliances do not work like that, particularly asymmetrical alliances like NATO in which certain countries contribute far more of the alliance capabilities than many other signatories do. No, obstinancy on the part of non-participatory members of an alliance is a formulae for breakup of the alliance.

Don S on :

"I think honesty is required: If German politicians amd journalists and blog commenters think that Afghanistan is not the worth to risk the lives of soldiers, then they should say so rather than saying that transformation of policy and mentality could not possibly go faster." I can see sound reasons for duplicity on the part of the German government in this case. They are buying time for something to happen by being less than honest. You know and I know that if actions speak louder than words do (which they do) what you wrote is perfectly true. Talking about the angst of transformation is perfect nonsense, as the Poles just showed by offering a major deploment. If Poland can do it why can't the Germans do it with far more resources than Poland has? But.... If Germany's leaders were to be honest in this case the immediate result would be the Canadians marching straight out of Afghanistan and out of 'effective' NATO now and for the forseeable future. The effect on the US would be to force the US to take up the slack in the short term - and follow the Canadians out in the longer term. I doubt Merkel wants that, so she is playing for time - and hoping for a miracle. It isn't going to happen, Angela. If any 'miracles' occur they will happen in Germany, France, Spain, Italy. 'Disengaged' Nato to coin a phrase....

Robert M. Stockmann on :

"I wonder what Roosevelt would think of this." Many people seem to give Roosevelt [FDR] a lot of credit for his contribution into WWII, even today. Recently some missing links about FDR were made available again. In particular published works about Roosevelt from 1945 to 1963. Since the JFK assassination these books have become rare known antiquities. "PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S ROLE" http://crashrecovery.org/moneymasters/#protocol20 CAPTAIN A.H.M. RAMSEY, in his book "THE NAMELESS WAR" quotes the book by Professor Charles Beard entitled "President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War 1941", which was published by the Yale University Press in April 1948. It's a proposal to indict President Roosevelt on three counts, and his subsequent impeachment. From "THE NAMELESS WAR", chapter "PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT'S ROLE" page 76-77 : " We have seen from a previous chapter that it was not the preservation of the British Empire, nor the French Empire, nor the Dutch, that swayed the President [FDR]. On the contrary, he had advised his ardent lieutenant, Mr. Churchill, at an early stage in the cold war that these must be liquidated. It was not Europe, nor the countries of Europe, nor their liberties, nor rights under the Atlantic Charter of Four Freedoms which weighed with him. We know now that the British and American armies were actually halted by General Ike Eisenhower under Mr. Roosevelt's rulings at the Yalta Conference, so that the Red Army of Jewish Bolshevism might overflow half Europe and occupy Berlin. To quote again from Professor Beard :-- " As a consequence of the war called necessary to overthrow Hitler's despotism,' another despotism was raised to a higher pitch of power." In conclusion, Professor Beard condenses the many indictments of the President set forth in his book, into 12 major counts, and declares :-- "If these precedents are to stand unimpeached, and to provide sanctions for the continued conduct of American affairs -- the Constitution may be nullified by the President and officers who have taken the oath and are under moral obligation to uphold it. For limited Government under supreme law they may substitute personal and arbitrary government -- the first principle of the totalitarian system against which it has been alleged that World War II was waged -- while giving lip service to the principle of constitutional government." When we reflect upon the astounding contents of Professor Beard's book, and consider them in conjunction with the revelations in Colonel Roosevelt's As He Saw It, the question arises: whom, and which interests did President Roosevelt not betray. To this query I can only see one answer, namely, those people and their interests who planned from the start the use of United States arsenals and Forces to prosecute a war which would annihilate a Europe which had freed itself from Jewish gold and revolutionary control: people who planned to dissolve the British Empire, to forge chains of unrepayable debt, wherewith to coerce Britain to this end ; and to enable the Soviets to "bestride Europe like a colossus," * in other words, International Jewry. * These very words were used by General Smuts, who added words to the effect that he welcomed such a prospect. It should be remembered that General Smuts was formerly chief legal adviser to the Zionist Organization in S. Africa."

bashy on :

forget about any help from germany. the left is rising in the government. the left every other word out of their mouth is anti-american. the U.S. should pull troops out of kosovo, it has been almost 10 years. that is europe's backyard let them take care of it. then we need to move our bases out of germany. the german people don't want us here. and it was that way before bush ever became president. as for nato it looks good on paper that is it. it is like the UN alot or members, but don't want to take responsibilty for anything. sit around a table and blah blah blah! I rather have bilateral agreements with countries. the russians have some control over the germans, with energy and it is only gonna get worst with the germans closing their nuke plants.

joe on :

Canada’s request for additional troops on the ground in its AOR to conduct combat operations is consistent with NATO’s charter. The response by Germany to refuse this request is not. Germany’s response is not a surprise. It would have been a surprise if Germany had chosen to honor its commitments. This is just another step toward unwinding NATO. It will be interesting to see which nation invokes Article 13 of the Treaty first. I am hopeful it will be the US. It seems Germany has made the determination NATO operations in Afghanistan are not worth Germany’s treasure. So be it. The question then becomes what is NATO worth and what are Germans worth.

Zyme on :

For a nation like Germany that prefers fighting terrorism via police and intelligence, Nato is obviously of little worth in this regard. And since there is a real lack of an additional threat, from our perspective it can be seen as an alliance without any raison d'être.

joe on :

Zyme Seems the Germans have not learned alot if your statement is true. Seems you want to battle on your home court. That would seem to be a bad choice given the destruction in Germany during the closing stages of WWII.

Kyle Atwell on :

Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski has decided to send more troops in support of Canada and the ISAF mission after Canada threatened to pull its troops out of Afghanistan if it did not get more NATO support, according to Armed Foreces International. Sikorski is reported to have said: "More needs to be done, the burdens have to be shared more fairly and there's no room for free riding in this most important of operations that NATO has ever undertaken." I don't agree with the phrasing that Afghanistan is the most important operations, since that makes it sound like this is the most important role NATO has been in. I would argue that providing a political forum is the most important thing NATO has ever accomplished, and will continue to be so. Perhaps "operations" is a technical term, and Sikorski is saying Afghanistan is the most important actual military deployment NATO has ever done... fair enough. Armed Forces International also reports: "1,200 Polish troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan. A further 400 are due to join them before the end of 2008. During his speech, Mr Sikorski offered Canada the use of Polish troops and helicopters, stating: "When an ally asks you, you try to accommodate him.” He added: “This mission has to be a success, and (we) can only succeed by doing it together." I think this is great. Props to Poland.

Don S on :

Amazing the way Sikorski (and Poland) stepped up here. Pretty quickly too. Contrast that with the time a certain other NATO member took to work out how to send a few recon planes to Afghanistan last year. And 250 combat troops to relieve Norway this year. And Sikorski's rhetoric! "No room for free-riding"! Amazing. But then NATO is actually important to Poland, unlike certain other countries lacking the impetus of having a Bear on their border.....

Robert M. Stockmann on :

NATO in severe trouble NATO seems to be in severe trouble, internally. A weird background image was sent on 07-FEB-2008 on NOVA TV (NED2) where Dutch Defence Minister Middelkoop was reporting from Vilnius, Lithuania, near the Soviet border, some 60 miles from Minsk. The background board showed the following text : 07-08 II 2008 NATO Defence Ministers ---+--- Ministres de la Defence OTAN VILNIUS Very strange. If NATO is spelled backwards on the same board, it means the highest NATO chiefs are internally in conflict. Does this read like : "The Devil is in Disarray" ? The highest NATO chiefs are in need of mental health care? Also, why is the date of the event spelled as : 07-08 II 2008 instead of 07-02-2008 or 07-FEB-2008, or Feb 7, 2008 ? Something is very very foul here. Could Afghanistan slowly have become the Waterloo for NATO? Check www.novatv.nl in a couple of hours or maybe tomorrow, and you can replay the Interview with Dutch Defence Minister Middelkoop to see that weird background image yourself. http://www.novatv.nl/index.cfm?ln=nl&fuseaction=videoaudio.details&reportage_id=5789 http://crashrecovery.org/nato.jpg "Netherlands guilty of war violations in Afghanistan" http://www.niburu.nl/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=13074 29/01/08 The Netherlands are guilty of serious war violations in Afghanistan. This claim was made by two lawyers who yesterday filed a complaint against the Dutch government and the Chiefs of Staff of the Dutch Armed Forces, as was reported by Dutch Newspaper Trouw. The Dutch troops failed to adequately take into account the presence of civilians. Heavy infantry According to lawyers Nico Steijnen and Meindert Stelling, who are activists for the association of Lawyers for Peace, charges include a battle in the district of Chora where between fifty and seventy civilian casualties were made. Most of them, according independent investigation, were slain by Dutch gun fire. The NATO commander in the province of Uruzgan typified the use of heavy infantry by the Dutch, as a violation of war. His superiors were, according 'Trouw', of a different opinion. Civilian Casualties The Public Ministry has been conducting research into the June battle in Chora, but, according the peace advocates, already in 2003 civilian casualties were made by the Dutch in Afghanistan. The lawyers report in the newspaper that NATO has given itself a carte blanche to execute the leaders of the Taliban 'outside the law'. NATO Secretary-General The declaration covers amongst others the Dutch Commander of the Armed Forces Dick Berlijn, the Secretary-General of NATO Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the highest officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense. By Wednesday, according 'Trouw', it will be known whether the Public Prosecution Service will consider the pending complaints. The lawyers, who previously tried to get the Netherlands prosecuted for air strikes in former Yugoslavia, have already stated to proceed to the court of Justice if the PPS dismisses the complaint. (Novum / kA)" Interesting enough the NOVA broadcast of February 7, 2008, mentions nothing about the above filed lawsuit. Instead the Chiefs of NATO conducted a special meeting near the Soviet border and flash a symbolic message across the Dutch TV air-waves.

Kyle Atwell on :

Robert, I hope you are kidding with the first part of your comments. It is hard to tell whether it is sarcasm or not, but just in case: OTAN = Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord 07-08 II 2008 = the 7th-8th February (II) 2008... I guess they got fancy with the 2 and turned it into roman numerals... perhaps the people at NATO HQ need longer lunch breaks.

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