Wednesday, February 6, 2008

NATO may split up over Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is worried that NATO is dissolving into a “two-tiered alliance” with “some allies willing to fight and die to protect peoples' security, and others who are not.”

His comments come after some European nations refused to send additional troops to serve in Afghanistan. While all NATO member nations have sent some troops to Afghanistan, some nations have recently turned down requests to move their forces into the troubled southern part of the country (where the Taleban is actively fighting both the Afghan government and NATO forces), while other members are looking at bring their troops home.

Gates helped cause this problem a few weeks ago by giving an interview to the LA Times where he seemed to question the quality of some of the NATO troops. Denmark and Canada in particular took offense to Gates’ remarks. Both nations have lost troops during the Afghan mission.

And there is still the larger question of why is NATO is even involved in Afghanistan in the first place? Keep in mind that NATO was formed in the early days of the Cold War to defend Western Europe against an invasion by the Soviet Union. Anti-insurgency operations in a small Central Asian nation are quite a large step away from this original mission, and could be a reason why a number of NATO members are now reluctant to send even more troops to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank is warning that Afghanistan could become a failed state if Taleban-backed militias are not stopped and if reconstruction efforts in the country do not continue.
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