"NATOs future is on the line here" Holbrooke on Afgahnistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Mr._Average, Feb 8, 2009.

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  1. While re-iterating the common view that Afghanistan is a tough proposition, those are interesting throw away comments from Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan.

    "MUNICH, Feb. 8 -- President Obama's national security team gave a dire assessment Sunday of the war in Afghanistan, with one member calling it a challenge "much tougher than Iraq" and others hinting that it could take years to turn around.

    U.S. officials said more troops were urgently needed, both from the United States and its NATO allies, to counter the increasing strength of the Taliban and other warlords opposed to the central government in Kabul. But they also said new approaches were needed to untangle an inefficient and conflicting array of civilian-aid programs that have wasted billions of dollars.

    "NATO's future is on the line here," Richard Holbrooke, the State Department's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told an international security conference here. "It's going to be a long, difficult struggle. In my view, it's going to be much tougher than Iraq."

  2. Not sure which point or points you’re making here MA? Afghan is a hard problem? – yes; Are we ‘beating’ the Tali? – in what way?; Have reasons for NATO and what it’s members want or need from it have changed? – yes, dramatically; Is ‘aid’ money being uselessly squander hand-over-fist? – almost undoubtedly.

    ONE, and only one, of the reappraisals lays with America and what Obama thinks and what can be ‘sold’ to ‘his fellow Americans’. After WWII, Western Europe had to stand cap-in-hand before Uncle Sam because we were decimated and bankrupt while Uncles Sam had profited beyond belief – a situation destined to continue for decades to come.

    It mattered not one iota whether Sam was the best Nation to be in the dictatorial driving seat, they were since Op TORCH, end of. Our (Western Europe) alternative at the time was to descend into Uncle Joe’s Red empire – some alternative.

    Afghan, Iraq and hosts of other situations have been Sam making the decisions and expecting everyone else to say ‘yes sir, great idea sir, absolutely right sir, what are our orders sir’. Sam automatically assumes the only way is their way, and of course they are always right? Can anyone see Sam sitting at a table with his ears open and his mouth shut – except to say; ”What do you want us to do?”

  3. I smell desperation in the air. Most of NATO doesn't believe that AFG has anything to do with their national security, and the US are trying desperately to reinforce failure. My view is that the tribal structures that straddle the Durand line mean that success in AFG must necessarily lead to a breakup of Pakistan. That is far more of a threat to Europe than AFG ever could be.

    And so we'll see the US pushing harder for more troops, and no-one sending them. Interesting times indeed.
  4. Hello No 9.

    Wasn't making any particular point other than the comments from Holbrooke were, I felt, worthy of note.

    Its the first time I've seen such an experienced and seasoned US diplomat make such a bold statement that the future of NATO is being assessed by the US within the context of it's performance in the Afghan conflict.

    And Holbrooke is not some Obama crony with no overseas experience being given a comfy sinecure to repay him for domestic political support. His CV shows 40+ years engagement in US foreign policy at the highest levels and he was in the frame this time around to be US Secretary of State. That Obama has appointed him as special envoy to Afghanistan & Pakistan says to me that the US genuinely regard this as a major issue (not sure if it was so much for the previous administration) and has sent in one of their 'heavy hitters' to establish more clearly their political strategy for the region.

    That someone in his position, who has the ear of the new US President and who was speaking officially on behalf of the US, should say that NATO's future was on the line over Afghanistan is a pretty big thing to say, especially given his role under Clinton in promoting the eastward expansion of NATO.

    It could be the US applying pressure for more troops from its allies or it could signal a rather deeper review by the US of it's Atlanticist strategies.

    Or it could just be an off the cuff comment with no meaning whatsoever.

  5. It seems fairly obvious that the US's idea of what NATO's there for differs dramatically from what the majority of European states think. Things change, so do perceptions.

    Is NATO really worth preserving for the future now that the biggest player isn't getting along so well with the little ones?
  6. In-Limbo, while, as a matter of course, we always disagreed with CdG – and as a matter of course he always disagreed with us :D – he was probably quite correct about his 1966 objections to Uncle Sam in Europe, but the timing of his NATO cessation was way too premature as comrade Fat Lady hadn’t sung yet.

    NATO formed in 1949 for very good and logical reasons, this despite the UN forming in 1945 and the post Empire British Commonwealth in place. The threat of Soviet expansion (West, which chiefly concerned us), by means of land-grab is now not a real consideration, hence what is NATO for?

    I remain utterly opposed to a Federal Europe, but I do support a close European Defence Alliance. This does not mean members fold their respective National Armed Forces into one homogeneous Force, but strategy, planning and logistics are in place – and practised – for times when we, Europe, can act as one. In the meanwhile all members determine their own Armed Forces and equally their own Foreign Policy – meaning, for a wild example, if France decided to war with Algeria it does not mean Britain, Germany etc will automatically wade in with them.

    Where would this place America? Currently as a friendly ally, but not a ‘member’ as they’re not European. This would mean that we could also further relations with Russia? 8O Physically Russia is infinitely more European than the US, and to whatever degree they may favour Communism for themselves, that is really not an issue unless they revert back to the old days and want to impose it on everyone else.

    What about Canada? Actually I can’t see anyone picking on non-nuclear Canada, but if anyone did, irrespective of the UN, NATO and whatever, there is no way France, Britain and the ‘ole boy Commonwealth would not wade in without hesitation. :wink:

    NATO was right and purposeful in its day, but that day’s over. To quote the Herald Tribune article; ”In Washington and Brussels, the United States is finalizing details over which command posts France will be offered”. Sorry, but in 2009 that whip-hand is no longer needed nor wanted. :thumbdown:

  7. MA, it’s very early days for Obama and time will tell what his policies really are and how many he can really push through. Currently like most other countries he’s in a hole and needs money. Clearly one way is to spend less on military projection and in that respect achievable but coercing others to contribute more.

    This ‘global war on terror’ is a bit of a jingoistic sentiment when behind closed doors most countries don’t actually see it that way. I don’t say there are not severe issues to be dealt with, but probably not – or at least not all – in the way Uncle Sam Bush dictated.

    It’s going to take a very big Statesman to say; ”We were wrong, we didn’t know but we didn’t ask, and even if we did in truth we wouldn’t have listened. Can you please help us dig ourselves out?” 8O

  8. DC has been dropping a heavy hints that the days of hiding behind uncle Sam's skirts may be numbered for some time. The Pashtun war is just a rather glaring example of free riding pompously peacenik, Eurovolk and their skinflint defense budgets. He doesn't just mean the Germans either.

    I've some sympathy with their view. Europe needs NATO a hell of a lot more than DC. If I was Barry I'd let Vlad put the fear of God into us a few more times to remind us why we need it.

    The Yanks are a traditionally isolationist nation that's due to a series of hubristic post Cold War policy errors is severely over extended abroad both militarily and economically. They are up to their eyes in debt to their main strategic rivals. A little more collaboration would be a prudent investment in their future good will.

    On the US side they need to put together a half realistic decades long regional plan to avert a costly disaster. Being rather rank about the dangers of a nutter ruled Islamabad might help. Folk have been rather too distracted by slippery Qom of late.
  9. 1. Does it? "... a concern over the fact that America could turn away or leave Europe to its fate is ungrounded. US global interests wouldn't allow for that. Their understandable desire to retain conflicts as far as possible from their own continent - (if conflicts can not be prevented let them be limited to Europe) - was displayed during the deployment of intermediate range missiles, in the eyes of Americans, it was one of the elements of the plans to build regional, tactical missile defense for armed forces overseas." (Egon Bar FOR EUROPE - KREP RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA)

    Maybe what Europe needs is European military alliance?

    2. And what if Vlad doesn't want to put the fear of God into Europe? :D
    After all, Russia sees itself as part of Europe (not EU, but Europe);
    "In fact, Russia proposes to build a pan-European system, which will bring together the technical capabilities of Europeans and create joint forces and command structures which can be used in concert according to requirements, based on the general analysis of potential threats, ." (Egon Bar FOR EUROPE - KREP RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA)
  10. alib - "DC has been dropping a [few] heavy hints that the days of hiding behind uncle Sam's skirts may be numbered for some time."

    This is encouraging. Maybe after all this time Sam is realising his guests have gone home?

    ”The Pashtun war is just a rather glaring example of free riding pompously peacenik, Eurovolk and their skinflint defense budgets. He doesn't just mean the Germans either.”

    But it’s Sam’s party? I’ve heard of ‘bring a bottle’, but ‘bring-an-army’ is a bit much?

    ”I've some sympathy with their view. Europe needs NATO a hell of a lot more than DC.”

    Au contraire, without NATO Uncle Sam’s would be the only party guest? As was said 40 years ago, ‘Supposing they gave a war and nobody came?’
    ”Than’ u very much, a-ha-ha.”[/align]

    ”If I was Barry I'd let Vlad put the fear of God into us a few more times to remind us why we need it.”

    Vlad doesn’t put the fear of God up me? OK, so an image of him raving to Abba is a bit disconcerting, but then my Duck-walk might distress him?


    ps. if 2009 Vlad frightens you, it’s a good job you weren’t involved in the 60s else you’d probably have never gotten off the bog 8O :D
  11. Despite it all we do still need the US.

    Reality check, we are a small nation with a largely miniscule force. The US is the only Western Nation able to respond any percieved threat.

    TRhe first UK troops arrived in Afghan via a Caucus Civil Airliner meanwhile the US launched dual aircraft carriers from the Mid East and Japan respectively.

    We simply do not have the means to secure our physical and economic security without the US. When the film Love Actually was released Tony Blair was asked genuinely by a reporter if he admired Hugh Grant's speech.

    His reply was a small laugh and then to say 'Yes, but Hugh Grant does not have to consider tomorrow, the day after or 10 years from now.'

    The truth is we do need the US, and we can win in Afghanistan, and we do need more troops to do it. One pace forward volunteer right here.

    In 1985 the Russians had them with the destruction of the insurgent stronghold in the Hindu Kush. Mahmoud took his fighters North in a desperate flight. That same year the US supplied the anti-communists with Stingers and once the revised Soviet air tactics were negated they decided to withdraw.

    At the height of their conflict they had 118,000. And it was working. If we can combat the air threat, we can win it. The modern soldier is better trained, better equipped and better prepared than at any time. Stop viewing the enemy as indestructible. A little historical education will show that your defeatist attitude is just a collection of half-truths and media bias. We are at war and if it means casualties so be it. But then I didn't join the Coastguard.

    We should see it through to the end and the rest of Europe needs to get a grip of themselves and realise that just because the enemy is sleeping it does not mean they are not waiting.
  12. NATO was conceived many years ago to deter a threat that no longer exists.

    Is NATO an appropriate structure for the threats 'we' face now?

    Is the US (and the UK) placing unreasonable demands upon other NATO members to reinforce its own failure?
  13. Failure? What failure is that? Why is it unreasonable demands?

    Organisations must adapt and respond to the threats they face.
  14. Failure? What failure you ask.

    Here's just a handful of things to run your thoughts over...

    1) Consider the original mission aims of OEF and the timespan expected to complete the mission.

    2) Consider the original UK mission aims within ISAF and whether that was achieved.

    3) Consider the original UK mission aims once the move to Helmand was instigated and whether that was achieved.

    4) Consider the original ISAF mission itself and where it stands now.

    5) Consider the situation developing in Pakistan.

    6) Consider the domestic threat from Islamic terrorism within the UK.

    If it's not broken, don't demand too much and fiddle with the organisation or you'll break it.