Monday, February 11, 2008

Clear Talk from Secretary Gates

The Defense Secretary minced no words in Munich. He said, pretty clearly, that , "in NATO, some allies ought not to have the luxury of opting only for stability and civilian operations, thus forcing other Allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and the dying."

This follows on to what was a less than satisfactory outcome in Vilnius, something I discussed on Thursday at National Interest online and which has been the subject of debate over at the Atlantic Community.

The Secretary tried to make the case for why the NATO mission in Afghanistan is a vital interest for all alliance members.

But we have also seen the continued interest in buck-passing, and perhaps for those U.S. advocates of the Global NATO/League of Democracies approach--European critics who say NATO can't do the job alone in Afghanistan and that a more robust UN presence is needed. Seems this deflates the the GN/LoD model, which is supposed to show how ad hoc groupings of democracies are more effective than the UN.

I don't know if this ongoing problem is going to be resolved by the Bucharest summit.

Is this Europe as a whole, though, Nick, or mainly the Germans? Seems that the French are willing to talk about a more robust NATO, as are the Dutch and the new members of the alliance.
Think it will take the Canadians following through on their threat and a US unable/unwilling to increase its own committments there for the message to hit home.

Be prepared too for a Kosovo reaction in a different direction--easier for Euro politicians to argue that this is a mission that needs priority and gee we can't send troops off to a distant land if they are needed there.
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