Today, I Have Only Questions
In Riga (Latvia), NATO leaders agreed Wednesday to come to each other's aid in emergencies anywhere in Afghanistan, but their summit failed to muster significant reinforcements for operations in Taliban strongholds.
Only the Poles kicked in sizable additional contribution. President Lech Kaczynski did not mention names when he observed,
The summit did not have the character of a major breakthrough. Not all countries showed the same level of determination.The critique by David Bercuson, a military analyst at the University of Calgary, was that
The political leadership of NATO clearly does not believe that this mission is important enough to commit the resources necessary for success . . . NATO is failing the test in Afghanistan. And if it fails the test in Afghanistan, I don't think there can be any consideration for NATO doing anything else.The Canadians feel the brunt of the bloodletting in Afghanistan has fallen on their 2,300 soldiers in Kandahar. The inaction by NATO leaders in Riga mean they will keep fighting and dying without reinforcements in the province that is the Taliban's heartland. A retired Canadian major-general, Lewis MacKenzie, says NATO needs many more soldiers in Afghanistan to keep up the pressure on the Taliban militants.
We've got to dig in and protect the area we've taken from the bad guys. Our guys are kind of pinned to the ground and can't exploit success. . . . I think everyone can deduce an emergency means that those of us in the south are in danger and need help . . . Unless some large number of nations get off their butts … and get down to Southern Afghanistan and augment our troops, then the mission is threatened. 30,000 more are needed.What about the Afghanistan mission in general? General Joseph Ralston, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 2000-2003, thinks it is in doubt, up for grabs.
Events in Afghanistan are reaching a critical juncture, and European politics and perceptions as well as US commitments in Iraq may prevent NATO from getting the assets necessary to ensure victory. . . As a result, NATO has become an alliance of unclear political purpose and lacking military performance, as currently evident in Afghanistan. It cannot go on much longer in this way.How did we get to where we are?
The attacks on America of 911 triggered Article V in NATO's Charter:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
When that project was launched - Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) - the alliance openly split, and has never really come together since. Because they wouldn't play our football game in the Baghdad Bowl, Rumsfeld dissed them as "Old Europe". Remember that?
Is that why at Riga this week, Germany, Italy and Spain made it clear that their troops would remain in the north, far from the fighting? And France?
NATO is in Afghanistan because the attacks on the USA of 9-11 triggered Article V. (All for one and one for all.) Why has the ardour of NATO members cooled? Could it be that now our USA is using only a fraction of its fighting forces in Afghanistan? Could it be that rest of our military assets are being squandered on a frivolous adventure elsewhere, completely irrelevant to the 9-11 attacks?
It was us Americans who were attacked by Osama bin Laden. I can't believe I've been that inattentive but I have yet to see any European or Canadian openly complain that they have been left to pull American chestnuts out of the fire in Afghanistan.
Why is that?