Afghanistan is a better place today than it has ever been and it is thanks to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Allies and the superb work and the effort each Allied Country has given to the effort. Afghanistan used to be a messed-up, warlord governed, decentralized, unstable, chaotic country and that was after the Taliban were forced from power by the US Led NATO operation against it in the wake of 9/11. But today, Afghanistan is safe because NATO came together at a critical time.
NATO Countries sent in tens of thousands of troops, specialists, trainers, engineers and a myriad of other civilian and military professionals to give Afghanistan the chance it deserved. The Allies came together, united and strong, supporting the central government in Kabul and were not afraid to put their troops in harms way, knowing full well that a united NATO would not only help defeat terrorists, Narcotics traffickers, and violent warlords in Afghanistan, but also knew that as NATO united, a global pressure would mount on Pakistan to convince them to cooperate. This has directly facilitating the capture of Usama bin Laden and hundreds of other deadly terrorists has made the world considerably safer today!
Up to this point, this blog post has been pure fiction – a fantasy! The blunt truth is that we are further away from this than ever.
Today, Afghanistan is not only hosting Taliban attacks, chaos, violence, drug crops and trafficking, but could be the place where NATO, as an Alliance and organization has come to die. There is a crises inside NATO and unfortunately it is has been severely under reported.
This writer was floored to read the exact opposite in a recent TIME Magazine Commentary from Josef Joffe entitled “Soldiering On” where Mr. Joffe asserts that NATO is doing well and is “healthy”. Quoting he says:
“So the old Lady [NATO] now celebrating her 60th birthday in fine health, should have died a long time ago”.
“In fine health”?! If NATO is in fine health, I would hate to see what it would look like if the ‘old Lady’, as he refers to NATO, were to be bedridden or ailing!
NATO’s problems started on September 12, 2001, one day after the horrendous attacks on The United States in New York City and Washington D.C. by Terrorists flying Commercial jets. While the entire world was reeling from the devastation inflicted on American, NATO came together in an unprecedented way. This writer will never forget when the then NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson issued a Press Statement announcing that Article 5 was been instated for the first time, meaning that an attach on one NATO Nation was an attack on all. I was proud to be a World Citizen and was proud of NATO and the member countries to take this stand and was confident that the fight would be relatively brief as NATO banded together in unity.
You can listen to the brief statement here.
On the subject of Afghanistan, it seems that September 12, 2001 was the first day and the last day that NATO was united. Judging by the reaction of some NATO countries, if they will ever be attacked, they will just sit and not react to the attack, nor do anything to defend themselves.
According to the most recent report on NATO in Afghanistan by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) titled, “NATO in Afghanistan: A Test of the Transatlantic Alliance” the first issue that NATO forces face in implementing their United Nations mandated Mission in Afghanistan are national “caveats”. These are restrictions that “allied governments, or parliaments, place on the use of their forces”. Quoting from the report,
“NATO commanders have long sought to minimize the number of caveats on forces dedicated to [the Security Forces in Afghanistan], an effort that has met with mixed success. In September 2006, former NATO SACEUR General James Jones expressed frustration at the limitations that some allies placed on their troops. ‘It’s not enough,’ he said, ‘to simply provide forces if those forces have restrictions on them that limit them from being effective’ “.
The report specifically notes that in addition to The United States, Britain and Canada have provided substantial support, as has Poland with increasing commitments from France. Other countries’ support have been limited, restricted, or withdrawn.
For years, pundits and political commentators have been saying that the US’ primary stumbling block to obtaining greater support from other European and NATO countries was President Bush and the Bush Administration’s stance and attitude, especially stemming from Iraq.
Just in the last few days, this theory has been proven wrong. On President Obama’s first trip to Europe, he tried to obtain pledges for greater support in Afghanistan from NATO Allies and was not successful. So it wasn’t the Bush Administration after all!
Success in Afghanistan would not only benefit The United States, but the entire world – failure will not only hurt The United States, but the entire world. It is imperative that more countries step up and provide more than “caveats”. Germany’s recent commitment of 150 personnel to train is absurd and their attitude that is shown by that “commitment” is dangerous. The United States must be more aggressive in pointing that out to other countries – going as far as threatening to withdrawal from NATO if other countries do not give substantial, unrestricted support to the effort against the War in Afghanistan.
If the U.S. can succeed in garnering more support, then the fantasy of a successful operation in Afghanistan would become reality. Otherwise, NATO will be rendered useless and insignificant and the world much more dangerous place than it is today – that is reality!