MUNICH, Germany - Survival of the NATO alliance, a cornerstone of American security policy for six decades, is at stake in the debate over how the United States and Europe should share the burden of fighting Islamic extremism in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.
"We must not — we cannot — become a two-tiered alliance of those willing to fight and those who are not," Gates told the Munich Conference on Security Policy, where Afghanistan was a central topic.
"Such a development, with all its implications for collective security, would effectively destroy the alliance," he added.
1. Nay-TO has for some time now been "a two-tiered alliance".
2. Why is Nay-TO so vital to US security, now that the USSR has gone belly-up?
Washington has had innumerable disputes with its NATO allies in the 59 years since it was founded as a bulwark against the former Soviet Union. But today's debate over the importance of the mission in Afghanistan and how to accomplish it was portrayed by Gates as among the most difficult ever.
Well, in a way, it is -- this is the first time Nay-TO ever actually had to fight, and the alliance is falling part.
It is not a problem with the troops; it is a problem with the diverse viewpoints of their governments, which pander to the diverse factions they represent.
A central theme of Gates' speech was his assertion that al-Qaida extremists, either in Afghanistan or elsewhere, pose a greater threat to Europe than many Europeans realize.
The problem actually goes a little deeper than that, but the Bush Administration insists on maintaining this "Religion of Peace" fiction.
After delivering his prepared remarks Gates fielded questions from his audience, which included dozens of top government officials, mainly from Europe and the United States, as well as military officers, private security specialists, members of Congress and European parliamentarians.
A member of the Russian parliament, leading off the questioning, accused the United States of having created today's al-Qaida threat through its support in the 1980s for the mujahadeen resistance to Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
Actually, there's a great deal of truth in that.
But, Pakistan's ISI and Saudi Arabia, among others, played a role, as well.
After the Soviet invasion, there was going to be a jihad. What the Reagan Administration did was to help ensure it did not starve for resources or expertise.
Gates disputed that assertion but said he did regret that the United States abandoned Afghanistan after the Soviets withdrew in 1989.
"The threat from al-Qaida began with the Soviet invasion of a sovereign state in December 1979, a state that up to that point had not represented a threat to anybody in the world, except to a certain extent its own people because of its weakness and poverty," Gates said in response to the Russian's question.
Translation: It was the fault of the godless Bolshevik hordes!
Also addressing the conference was Sergei Ivanov, the former Russian defense minister who is now a deputy prime minister. He advocated joining forces to fight international terrorism, but suggested the United States has motives that are out of step with those of Russia and other countries.
"Some states strive to exploit anti-terrorist activities as a pretext to achieving their own geopolitical and economic goals," Ivanov said, apparently referring to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
It is sad but true that Putin's Russia is perhaps more of a threat than we realize.
But, Bush is missing no opportunity to restart the Cold War, and by launching an attack on Iraq that did not have adequate support from the international community, and by establishing an American gulag where "detainees" (including US citizens) are held in limbo and mistreated, Bush is restarting that Cold War from relatively low moral ground.
In his speech, Gates praised NATO allies for their contributions in Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement ruled in Kabul and provided a haven for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network until U.S. forces invaded after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But he said pointedly that more effort is needed and the alliance must find a way to win the fight against a resurgent Taliban.
"In NATO, some allies ought not have the luxury of opting only for stability and civilian operations, forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and the dying," Gates said.
Lacking a universally-perceived threat, there is no consensus in an alliance that functions based on consensus.
He named no individual countries, but U.S. officials have been pressing Germany to do more.
Actually, as large as the immigrant Muslim population is in the UK, and as dhimmified as the UK's "elites" are, it's a surprise the UK is doing as much as it is. Perhaps the difference lies in Germany's collective sense of guilt for the Nazi era.
That's interesting, too, because most Germans alive today played no role in the Nazi era; besides, other European countries are demonstrating that they can be just as fascistic in their own ways (we won't mention the European Union by name, here).
NATO, through its International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, is in charge of the military mission in Afghanistan, although the top commander is an American, Army Gen. Daniel McNeill, and the United States is the biggest provider of troops. Of the 42,000 total ISAF troops, about 14,000 are American. The United States has another 13,000 separately hunting terrorists and training Afghan forces.
U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock, the NATO supreme commander, said in an interview shortly before Gates' appearance that the troops in Afghanistan would be making more progress if they had the resources they were promised more than a year ago. He said they are short at least three maneuver battalions, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tools to track movements on the ground.
Referring to a "paucity of troops," Craddock said the commanders in Afghanistan are like the coach of an 11-player soccer team that is competing with two players less than a full team. He said the effect is that the commanders are unable to attack and defend as aggressively as they would like.
"Give us the resources," Craddock said in the interview with U.S. reporters traveling with Gates.
In his speech, Gates said the Bush administration had learned from mistakes made in Iraq, including the need to more closely integrate the civilian-led stabilization efforts with the military efforts. He said the United States and NATO must apply that lesson in Afghanistan to assure success.
If the Bush Administration had learned from its mistakes in Iraq, senior Administration officials and their partners in Big Business would be in prison.
Gates is hoping to persuade Europeans that they have a big stake in the outcome in Afghanistan.
"I am concerned that many people on this continent may not comprehend the magnitude of the direct threat to European security," posed by radical elements in Afghanistan, he said.
Their large minorities of recent immigrants who refuse to assimilate will convince them of that -- just be patient.
The Pentagon chief, who was a career CIA officer before retiring in 1993, said his remarks on Afghanistan were meant to reach "directly to the people of Europe" in a bid to persuade them on the war's importance.
"The threat posed by violent Islamic extremism is real — and it is not going to go away," he said, adding that Europe has seen a string of terrorist attacks — in London, Madrid, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Paris and Glasgow, Scotland. And he ticked off a list of plots that were disrupted before they could be carried out, including a plan to use ricin and release cyanide in the London Underground and a planned chemical attack in Paris.
"It raises the question: What would happen if the false success they proclaim became real success? If they triumphed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or managed to topple the government of Pakistan? Or a major Middle Eastern government?
"Aside from the chaos that would instantly be sown in the region, success there would beget success on many other fronts as the cancer metastasized further and more rapidly than it already has," said Gates.
The United States now finds itself as the major player in a European alliance that has grown too large -- one based on consensus, but where consensus, never easily found, will be getting ever more elusive.
Factor in that some of the key players in the alliance are now facing not an external threat, but a growing internal threat, and the situation becomes more dire.
Nay-TO is becoming like the UN.
Many Nay-TO members are or soon will be members of the European Union.
The European Union is an organization which each nation democratically decides to join; once joined, the directives of its unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats trump the wishes of its member states, wishes communicated through democratic processes. Self-determination is taking a back seat to dictatorship of the elites, and Europe is becoming antithetical to the principles upon which our democratic republic is founded.
It may finally be time for the United States to withdraw from Nay-TO.
The United States must think and act globally. The United States must continue to be a player on the world scene. The United States should seek international support -- broad consensus if possible -- but the United States must not be afraid to act unilaterally when necessary.
The United States must act to reverse the impact of globalization, which has robbed our nation of its industrial base and denied our workers critical rungs on the ladder upward to the American Dream. We must restore America's economic and productive strength -- and opportunity -- by establishing a low, flat tax with an easily-understandable code to replace the complicated nightmare which now consumes our productivity and drives industry from our land.
We must draw well-guarded lines at our borders, one goal of which is to bring immigration under control. Those immigrants who seek opportunity in our nation must do so legally. The legality of their participation in America begins at the border, which they must cross lawfully; failure to do so must result in expulsion from territory subject to US jurisdiction, and the denial of permission to enter again for a certain period of time. Bureaucratic obstacles that inhibit or frustrate compliance with immigration (and other) laws must be eliminated; laws (in general) should be logical and understandable, neither excessively difficult to comply with nor oppressive.
While we seek within the context of diplomacy peaceful resolutions to issues that arise, we must consider and prepare for the contingency that we may have to face challenges alone; we must continue to be ready to offer help to those who would be our friends, but we must prepare for the time when our friends will not -- for whatever reason -- help us. We must also demonstrate humility by accepting help, even if not needed, and compromising on issues that are less important to us, reserving uncompromising determination, intrepidity and independence for those matters which are critical, and where our interests must not be allowed to erode away.
To achieve these goals, we need honest and wise leadership in Washington, especially in the White House, where US foreign policy is supposed to be set.
Generally speaking, we do not have honest and wise leadership in Washington, none is on the horizon, and Nay-TO is falling apart.