Global Security Headlines

Sunday, February 7, 2010

NATO Desperately Seeks a Mission?

How NATO, one the world´s most successful military alliances, has seemingly gone awry.

The trouble in Afghanistan is very severe as underscored by the desperation expressed by Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in the Munich Security Conference: NATO Says Russia, China Can Help in Afghanistan.

The SecGen´s news is just stunning. First, why would Russia want to wade back into Afghanistan? "Moscow´s Vietnam War" during the Soviet-era helped bring down the then Soviet Union. NATO does not have adequate helicopters to engage the enemy?

Russia wants to remain only as an observer in NATO now. Its fresh condemnation of US missiles in Romania is a curious development in this vain.

China? Sure, China is in the neighborhood. Yes, Beijing searches to expand the scope and range of its military reach. Does China want NATO to succeed?

Does Mr. Rassmussen believe both Russia and China view NATO benignly?

The Western military alliance which sat across the Fulda Gap between East and West Germany from 1949-1989 to halt a Soviet invasion which never came engaged in another mission far afield from Europe when the United States was attacked on 9/11.

Article 5 of the NATO Treaty states an attack on one is an attack on all. So NATO followed the United States into Afghanistan where it faces its gravest test in the history of the alliance.

Failure in a difficult scenario to secure a peace with a corrupt government and a determined enemy with safe border sanctuary - a la Vietnam - is not an option. The credibility of the alliance and its members governments, notably the United States, United Kingdom, and France are on the line.

 By Rassmussen´s account, NATO appears to be untethered and without a clearly defined mission as if fighting for freedom is not enough to sustain an alliance of democracies in a world generally hostile to this value.

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