Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization “cri de coeur”

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has since August 2003 taken on the responsibilities of command and co-ordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

At this particular juncture, NATO forces are coming under increasing attacks, more ferocious in nature as the Taliban adopts more effective tactics such as the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), kidnapping and summary executions to name but a few.

I suspect that most people now accept the legitimacy of this NATO operation in light of the events of September 11, 2001. Unlike the war in Iraq, were my “suspicions” tell me the plurality of opinion was / is against the Iraq war, to which I hold contrarian views on; we can at least agree that principals that underpin the whole Afghanistan exercise is different but equal, and are laudable.

As it now stands, the aim of the alliance in Afghanistan is as follows:

To assist the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community in maintaining security within its area of operation. ISAF supports the Government of Afghanistan in expanding its authority to the rest of the country, and in providing a safe and secure environment conducive to free and fair elections, the spread of the rule of law, and the reconstruction of the country.

As the Taliban consolidates its ability to conduct what I could only conclude is a war of attrition; certain members of the NATO alliance find it more appropriate to adopt a posture akin to that of an ostrich, whereby, they would sooner bury their collective heads in the sand, exposing to all of us their “true” working parts.

By any measure, the United States, Great Britain, Canada and The Netherlands are unfairly shouldering the bulk of the heaviest fighting, as they are currently being forced to take on the most dangerous combat roles.

Conspicuous by their absence in the South or the East of Afghanistan(where the heavy fighting is), some our European partners namely - Germany, France, Italy and Spain make a mockery of the collective doctrine of the NATO alliance. These offending members not content to do anything that remotely resembles “heavy lifting” have inoculated themselves by hiding behind the use of caveats.

The use of caveats by some members of the alliance have prevented and will continue to prevent irrespective of additional troop numbers, because they conditionally prevent these members from actively engaging with the enemy. You may recollect the riots in Kabul of May 2006. Perhaps what is less well know is that as a result of such liberal use of caveats, some of these countries do not permit their troop to handle tear gas, one of the most effect tools in dealing with riots.

Irrespective of what the liberal elite of Europe would have us believe, it is NATO, not the European Union that has served us well in Europe since it’s inception on April 4, 1949. Any attempts to undermine this institutions role does a disservice to us all, and we should resist with rigor the attempts by the European “chattering classes” to undermined this institution and replace it with one created by Brussels and run by France and Germany. France has long established its credentials on NATO that much is not up for debate.

The summit currently taking place in Bucharest, Romania must have a successful outcome. What is at risk here is far greater than the political egos of Merkel, Sarkozy, Zapatero & Co. This is a war that that will be long in duration and high in cost. Make no mistake about it, the cost in not finishing, or following through to its end is far higher.

The Taliban is currently having little problems in moving through the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are currently, if not already, are establishing secure supply lines, increasing the production of heroin, as well as other illegal activities which as a result increases their coffers with money.

Couple the above with weak and ineffective leadership by our European allies is merely a delayed recipe for disaster. Far worst is the result of an embolden Taliban with the money and means to do us all harm. We can not allow poor leadership and surreptitious political agendas to viciate that great institution - NATO

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