Time the rest of the EU played their part in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jan 14, 2009.

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  1. It is time the rest of the EU played their part in Afghanistan

    Gordon Brown opened yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions with a roll-call of the five servicemen killed in Afghanistan since the Commons last sat.

    Telegraph View
    Last Updated: 6:41PM GMT 14 Jan 2009
    Comments 0 | Comment on this article
    The recitation of the names of the fallen has now become a doleful preliminary to almost every PMQs. A total of 139 British service personnel have died in action since the 2001 invasion, most of them since the 2006 deployment when the then defence secretary, John Reid, voiced the hope that their tour of duty would be completed "without a shot being fired".
    It is hard to imagine such a fatuous remark being uttered by the current defence secretary, John Hutton. Within a month of his appointment last October, he delivered the most cogent and persuasive case for our presence in Afghanistan that has ever come from a minister in this government. Reminding us that the country was the base from which al-Qaeda - given sanctuary by the Taliban - launched its terrorist campaign against western interests, he warned it would do so again if the Taliban were not routed: "Our commitment to Afghanistan is first and foremost about the UK's national security".
    Today, Mr Hutton voices his frustration at the way we are being let down by our EU allies in this vital struggle. In words that are refreshingly undiplomatic, he will accuse countries such as France, Germany and Italy of "freeloading" on the sacrifice and commitment of the US, the UK and a handful of other NATO members, notably the Canadians, the Danes and the Dutch. He is right to do so. The pusillanimity of some of the bigger EU powers in Afghanistan has been shameful. For years they have resented US dominance of the alliance while at the same time expecting the Americans do the heavy-lifting and take the casualties. A NATO summit in Budapest last spring saw the US calling for greater commitment yet nothing has changed. The French remain under-resourced, the Germans avoid combat zones (and, according to a recent report, are growing fat and unfit on generous rations of wine and beer) while the Italians appear suspiciously adept at avoiding conflict with the Taliban.
    Mr Hutton's frustration with this shabby performance is understandable though we fear his declaration that "anyone who wants to benefit from collective security must be prepared to share the ultimate price" will continue to fall on deaf ears. President-Elect Obama's troop surge will doubtless be supported by Britain, not least because our special relationship is in need of some repair after difficulties in Iraq. But don't expect our leading EU partners to make real sacrifices. Doesn't it make their grandiloquent talk about an EU army sound pathetic?
  2. "Doesn't it make their grandiloquent talk about an EU army sound pathetic? "

    It certainly does Sir.
  3. You have to give them an incentive. Where is the incentive for other EU nations to really commit to this?
  4. How about continued membership of NATO?
  5. With talk of allowing rogue nations like Georgia in, they'd welcome that.

    Seriously AJ, you're up on all this financial mularkey, what could be exploited in Afghanistan to give financially and morally chinstrapped EU nations the incentive to actually contribute?
  6. SPOT ON AJ.
  7. feck all, unless you're a drug boss!
  8. and what does that prove? does it mean you've more protection? probably more money from countries that pay more taxes? it means sod all nowadays!
  9. With the Germans its Russia, Moscow does not want the Taliban to win anymore than we do, if they do it will then be the rest of the Stans 'infected' and then Mother Russia will have Talbib neighbours. Russia's problem is NATO and the Yanks. Germany has a strong and growing relationship with Russia, better in fact than with most of their allies in Europe and certainly in NATO.

    I believe that the Germans would fight if Russia was 100% with them & the mission, after all there is an entire generation of Hermans who suspect that they have Russian dads.

    Stop the dual military missions, the NATO one and whatever the Yank one is called. Start anew by rebranding everything on the command side and involve the Russians and the Chinese, maybe via the Shanghai security pact which also brings in the Stans. NATO is only there because of the immediate reaction to 9/11 if it stays until the end and we lose then the alliance is finished anyway, if it transfers to a new bigger whatever with the Chinese and Russians then it can survive.

    Use the situation to streamline NATO and bin the freeloaders, who will just be invited to pay - cash only, for being protected by able NATO nations - if they double the UK defence budget we'll make sure no nasty men set fire to brussels.
  10. The criticism against France are really getting long. France is doing what it can with the means at its disposal; the armed forces and their budget have been greatly reduced and all branches are struggling with low availability of their main equipment.

    On top of that, the FR armed forces are heavily commited on other theatres; the french CDS has publicly stated that his priority is to pull away as many troops as possible from those theatres but they all fall under NATO, UN or EU legislation and nobody is rushing to take over from France.

    The situation is as such: 2,700 inside Afghanistan, 700 outside in support of Afghanistan (air + TF150), 1,900 troops in the Lebanon (UN), 1,850 in Chad (EU), 2,000 in Ivory Coast (1,800 support to UN + 200 "badged" as UN), 2,000 in Kosovo, 150 in Bosnia (EU) plus another 1,450 in purely FR operations in Africa (Chad and the CAR) plus another few hundred in smaller scale Ops (MINURSO, Sinai etc).

    Total: 12,900 FR soldiers currently on operation, not counting permanent french bases such as Djibouti, Senegal, Gabon etc.
  11. Just to play devil's advocate. The US ran the invasion the way they wanted, without NATO support and the attendant joint control. NATO was invited in afterwards to rebuild and reconstruct. Now it turns out the war is not in fact over, it's hardly surprising that a lot of NATO countries aren't all that keen to contribute to the fighting which, it seems, has no end in sight.
    "You owe us, so stand to" isn't a very effective rallying cry AFTER sidelining NATO in the first place.
  12. My bold above. Just because France (and the UK for that matter, I don't pick on France just because I enjoy it) is doing what it can with the means it chooses to make available, doesn't mean they're doing enough. Money that should be spent on defence is going elsewhere, because the French people don't think that the war in Afghanistan is a priority.

    If they cared more, they'd spend more. But they don't, and no-one yet has decided what the price of that indifference is going to be.
  13. Like it or not it is not that simple for the Germans due to legal and internal political factors. For example the Germans would have loved to stated that they were getting rid of all Cluster Munitions. However the Mil Rep at the International Conference had to say the they couldn't beacuse under the Basic Law the German Govt was Duty Bound to retain some for training purposes so that their Troops were as well trained as possible.

    It is all part of the Duty of care towards their Armed Forces hence, for example, Bundeswehr medical Units being deployed where there are Bundeswehr troops.

    Plus as Frau Merkel probably knows, it would be a serious vote loser.
  14. It is time to exclude some members from NATO that don't contribute enough in Afghanistan.
  15. So you want to exclude the 4th, 5th and 6th largest financial contributors then ? (The ranking may have changed a bit but that's more or less what it would amount to).