• “Is NATO Relevant?” Sarwar Kashmeri with UK MP Mike Gapes, on Skynews

  • What’s Next For NATO: A “Reboot or Delete?” Robin Young, host of Here & Now asks Sarwar Kashmeri

  • Sarwar Kashmeri & NATO 2.0 on Fox News

  • To preserve NATO bridge it to the EU

    NATO used to be the world’s most formidable military alliance. But, its original reason for existence, the Soviet Union, disintegrated years ago, and its dreams of being a world cop are withering in the mountains of Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, the European Union’s Common Security & Defense Policy (CSDP) has deployed twenty-seven successful military/civil missions from Africa to Asia in the last ten years. Through CSDP, Europeans are increasingly taking charge of managing their own foreign and security policy. NATO is no longer the sole and preeminent Euro-Atlantic security actor.

    But watching NATO fade into irrelevance would be a mistake. It is a tried and true platform to harness the resources of North America and Europe. NATO’s future usefulness depends on its willingness to accept its reduced role, to let the EU handle the day-to-day security needs of Europe, and to craft a relationship with CSDP that will allow North America and Europe to act militarily together, should that ever become necessary.

    It is time for NATO 2.0, a new version of NATO, to fit the realities of an ever more integrated Europe in the twenty-first century.

Denmark Rejects NATO Request For F-16s

Denmark has turned down a NATO request to send F-16 fighters to Afghanistan as it believes it has done enough for the international military mission there, the foreign minister said Thursday. “…[Denmark…has a strong desire to scale down its military engagement” in Afghanistan as the Danish defence budget was “under pressure” and the government “is under no obligation to do more” there. Denmark “can be proud” of its role in Afghanistan, she said, adding that “it’s up to other countries to play a role and meet (NATO’s) demands”…   <Read full AFP article>

Two points stand out in this report. First, Denmark has been a faithful NATO ally, it has suffered more troops killed per capita than any other NATO member. So this refusal to help cannot have been an easy task. My question is, the NATO Secretary General is a former Danish Prime Minister. Could he not gauge the political temperature in Denmark? Is he so oblivious to Danish political and economic reality? Political decisions don’t just come out from nowhere. They germinate and then after much give and take, sprout. So, Mr. Rasmussen, what happened here? Why ask for something you know cannot be delivered.

Second, Denmark’s refusal is yet another reminder of the consequenses from the financial crisis. The ground has shifted in the EU and the U.S. With the recent German military cuts, U.S. scaling back its military budget, france and the UK trying to join their offensive and defensive military operations and maintenance. There is a strategic change underfoot in Euro-Atlantic defense and security operations, and the sooner NATO realizes it the more the chances that it will continue to be effective in the twenty-first century.  As a first step NATO should begin top level discussion with CSDP [the EU’s security and defense establishment] to bridge operations and eliminate duplication.

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NATO plans to stay in Afghanistan even after Afghans can handle their own security!

 

There’s an article in the August 22, 2010 edition of NewEurope that reminds me of the delusional world that some in NATO inhabit.

Right after a statement by President Karzai of Afghanistan in front of the representatives of 70 countries gathered in Kabul on July 20, 2010 that,

 …the new government can manage the country on its own, relying on its own armed forces and on a solid financial support of the international community…all responsibility for security and implementation of the national priorities and programs in the country would pass to the Afghan side as early as in 2014.

Pretty good news I’d say. A success for all concerned. But not for NATO’s Secretary General Rasmussen

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen talks to reporters in Kabul, Afghanistan |NEW EUROPE/KULPASH KONYROVA

who addressed reporters after the Karzai speech, at the press center, and told them,

A statement that the national forces of this country can assume the responsibility for their country’s security by 2014 does not mean that NATO troops will leave Afghanistan. They will continue to provide support. We will not leave the people of this country even after the transfer of responsibility to the national security forces; we will stay to help them.

Now that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Afghanistan’s elected leader says thanks for your help, we’ll take it from here after 2014, and the military alliance that has come to Afghanistan to help him says that they really don’t care what the President of Afghanistan says. Foreign troops will stay in your country until they decide to leave.

Did someone say “occupation?” “Colonialism?” Isn’t Afghanistan a soverign state?

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Rasmussen hangs on to NATO troops when the Dutch, Brits, Poles, Canadians, and many of the U.S. military have left.  Seriously, one would have thought the Secretary General would commend Mr. Karzai and say, “Bravo, more power to you.” But I guess that’s too logical.

OP Ed: NATO’s Existential Crossroad

Its come to this—military commanders in Afghanistan must consult an operations checklist before virtually every mission. They must be sure the NATO forces being sent out are properly fitted to the mission. Some NATO member countries don’t want their soldiers in a shooting zone, others won’t let military intelligence be shared between all NATO countries, and so on. A bit different from General Eisenhower leading his superb integrated fighting machine up the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
 
If NATO can no longer deploy an integrated fighting force, for what can the venerable Alliance be used in the future?  It is a serious threat to NATO’s existence as a military alliance.
 
I continue my conversation with Mark Mardell, North American editor of the BBC to flesh out my thoughts. 
 
Listen to MP3 Podcast:

President Obama’s Afghanistan Strategy Speech at West Point: A European Perspective

Atlantic Council interview with Mark Mardell, North America editor of the BBC.  Sarwar and Mark spoke on Thursday, December 3, 2009. Two days after President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan strategy speech at the U.S. Military Academy/West Point.

Listen to the MP3 podcast