Sunday, June 12. 2011
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Sunday, June 12. 2011
Russell Berman responded to our criticism with an update below his Daily Beast article that is longer than his original article.
This is my response: Yes, the United States started an impressive surge in Afghanistan last year, while the European NATO members "just" increased their troops. This means that the share of European compared to US troops is today lower than it used to be. The US surge, however, is temporary and Obama is expected to declare soon how many troops he will withdraw. European countries are sovereign and are not obligated to follow every US policy decision.
Moreover, this does not change the fact that Berman was factually wrong in stating that the Obama administration "was completely unable to convince any European ally to increase troop commitments" and "some [European allies], like the Netherlands, have in fact already withdrawn." Professor Berman's claim that it is "hard" "to find Europeans on the front lines," is wrong and insensitive to the families of dead soldiers.
Such statements will not encourage Europeans to increase their support US led wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere, which is Prof Berman's goal. Today, nearly ten years after 9/11, European countries have 37,000 troops in Afghanistan. That's an increase of 11,000 troops since Obama became president. Why is not Berman acknowledging this at all? Think about all the European families who have a loved one in Afghanistan!
Only if US think tankers appreciate the European contributions to Afghanistan, is there a chance that Europe continues to follow the US leadership and support the wars that the US political and think tank elite (but not the public) cares about.
Continue reading "We need to appreciate each other!"
Saturday, June 11. 2011
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Saturday, June 11. 2011
Secretary Gates apparently said today that European countries should increase their defense spending, because the United States has a debt problem and is not willing anymore to pay for Europe's defense.
Well, one of many reasons the US has such huge debt is the enormous defense budget, which is so much higher than those from other major powers. European nations are not spending more on defense, because we have debt problems as well and can't afford the US debt levels, because we cannot print dollars.
Besides, the US has not spent a fortune in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to protect Europe, but because of its own perceived self-interests. Thus I take issues with these statements by Secretary Gates as reported by the BBC:
Continue reading "Neocons and Liberal Interventionists vs. the Debt Crisis and the Realists"
Sunday, May 15. 2011
I am a big fan of The Economist, but the latest article on Germany's foreign policy "The unadventurous eagle" leaves me a bit confused. The title suggests that Germany is not going on foreign policy adventures. That's good, right?
The subheading, however, is negative and asserts cautiously "Europe's biggest economic power seems reluctant to have a foreign policy to match." So what? Japan, China, South Korea, Brazil do not match their economic power with foreign policy commitments either. Besides, the US and especially Greece have a disproportionately high defense spending considering the current state of their economy. If the Economist would accuse Germany of lack of NATO solidarity and burden sharing in Afghanistan and defense capabilities and readiness, I would agree.
Continue reading "Understanding Germany"
Jorge Benitez of the Atlantic Council writes in the New Atlanticist about the new NATO, which "is defined by US caveats, French political will, British leadership, German uncertainty, and a tangible level of commitment by some allies."
It's a good article, but I take issue with some of the harsher criticism against Germany, even though I agree that our foreign minister did not handle this issue well. Jorge writes:
What new allies? Allies are members of an alliance, which is a big deal. Germany abstained in the Libya vote. Russia, China, India and Brasil happen to have voted the same way, but that does not make these five countries allies. What is indeed shameful, however, is that according to Majid Sattar in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung our foreign minister and his staff made phone calls all night before the UN vote to convince other Security Council members to abstain.
Continue reading "Defending Germany, Defending NATO, Defending Definitions"
Tuesday, December 14. 2010
Posted by Joerg Wolf in US Foreign Policy on Tuesday, December 14. 2010
Richard Holbrooke, described by President Obama as a "true giant of American foreign policy," has died following heart surgery. He was only 69, but his career covered nearly fifty years. From 1993-1994, he was the US Ambassador to Germany and founded the American Academy in Berlin.
Ambassador Holbrooke died on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Accords, which was the biggest of his many accomplishments and ended more than three years of bloody war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
NATO published a three-part mini video documentary "From Peacekeeping To Partnership":
Richard Holbrooke's book about Bosnia "To End a War" (Amazon.com, Amazon.de) is my favorite foreign policy memoir. It is so well written that it reads like a good thriller. I was very inspired when I read his book during my Political Science studies in the late 90s. Richard Holbrooke was an inspiration to many other German students as well.
Thursday, November 18. 2010
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Thursday, November 18. 2010
President Obama started the charm offensive by naming Chancellor Merkel one of fifteen recipients of the 2010 Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor." Moreover, he published an Op-Ed in the NY Times: Europe and America, Aligned for the Future
And Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argues in Politico: Critics write obits, but NATO focuses on new threats
Do you think NATO will succeed in revitalizing itself?
Is Lisbon going to open a new chapter in NATO-Russian relations?
Are you optimistic regarding improved EU-US cooperation? Or do you expect nothing more than photo-ops?
Let us know.
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Thursday, September 23. 2010
Posted by Kyle Atwell in US Foreign Policy on Thursday, September 23. 2010
Given waning support for the Afghanistan mission, a sentiment among many Americans that the US is putting far more relatively into both Iraq and Afghanistan than it's partners, and regular arguments from media pundits that NATO no longer has relevance in a post-Cold War world -- I was surprised to read this in The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' 2010 national survey of public opinion on foreign policy:
Americans... continue to show support for involvement in NATO, one of America’s most enduring military alliances. Only 13 percent favor decreasing the U.S. commitment—essentially unchanged from 2004. Sixty-six percent (66%) favor keeping the current U.S. commitment to NATO “what it is now,” while 10 percent would like to increase it (down 4 points from 2004). (p.15)The report is titled Constrained Internationalism: Adapting to New Realities. Overall, the 83-page survey finds that American's still support a strong international role for US foreign policy, including militarily. The following excerpt comes from the introduction to chapter one, titled "Reevaluating Priorities across a Changing Global Landscape":
With a painfully slow recovery, persistently high unemployment, and diminished tax revenues, the United States has fewer resources to direct toward international efforts.
Wednesday, September 22. 2010
Posted by Kyle Atwell in Transatlantic Relations on Wednesday, September 22. 2010
2010 is the deadliest year for NATO forces in Afghanistan, reports the NYT.
Violence is 69 percent higher for the three months ending Sept. 14 than it was for the same period last year, according to the United Nations special representative’s quarterly report to the Security Council, which was released Tuesday.A graph documenting the steady annual rise of coalition deaths from 2001 to today can be found at iCasualties.org. US forces have suffered 1301 deaths out of the total 2098 among coalition forces since the war began in 2001.
This record in casualties follows another landmark event in Afghanistan last week, nation-wide provincial elections. Here are some (grim) stats on the election outcome provided by AFP:
* more than 2,500 candidates stood for 249 seats
* over 3,000 official complaints about voting irregularities
* more than 1,000 polling centers were unable to open because security could not be guaranteed
* 22 people were killed by polling day violence, and 294 insurgent attacks occurred
* final results are due October 31st, though may be delayed for months
While these numbers may be discouraging, Tony Karon writes in Time that the elections actually have only a marginal impact on Afghanistan's future:
Most of the region's main players, including President Karzai himself, are operating on the assumption that the only plausible endgame for the war in Afghanistan is some form of political settlement with the Taliban — and reports from the region suggest that the pursuit of such a settlement, with Pakistan acting as broker, has already begun via discreet talks. The bottom line in such a settlement would be for the Taliban to agree to prevent territory under its control from being used to export terrorism, and to accept that it will not be able to restore its theocratic rule over the whole country — some form of power sharing would be inevitable, with the Taliban likely to end up as the dominant political authority in the Pashtun south and east. But despite reports that Taliban leaders are open to a different approach to wielding power and hosting al-Qaeda, achieving a deal would be far from easy. The Taliban's military momentum diminishes its incentive to compromise, and the leaders of the Northern Alliance that fought the Taliban for years and brought President Karzai to power are fiercely opposed to the restoration of the movement to any position of power. Still, the distribution of power in Afghanistan is clearly going to be determined by the outcome of efforts to broker a political solution among those who wield military force on the ground. And in that respect, Saturday's vote was, unfortunately, a sideshow.
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