Can we answer SecDef Gates’ question about NATO and the Af-Pak War?
Robert Gates — Secretary of Defense in the New Obama Administration (also the SecDef in the old Bush Administration; change you should not have believed in) — has asked a question. It’s an opportunity for participatory democracy! Can we help him out by answering the question.
Gates asked this question during an interview with Katie Couric on CBS’ 60 Minutes, broadcast 17 May 2009:
The U.S. will have 68,000 troops in Afghanistan when the surge is completed this fall. NATO will have less than half as many, which makes no sense to Gates because terrorist plots spawned in the region are aimed at Europe as well as the U.S.
“I’ve been disappointed with NATO’s response to this ever since I got this job,” Gates told Couric. “NATO as an alliance, if you exclude the United States, has almost two million men under arms. Why they can’t get more than 32,000 to Afghanistan has always been a puzzle to me.“
“A puzzle, but it must be maddening as well,” Couric remarked.
“Frustrating,” Gates said.
How might the leaders of our NATO allies answer, after we injected them with truth serum?
(1) There is no point to this occupation of Afghanistan. They will find their own destiny, and our armies can do little to influence this. Neither can our flocks of airborne killers, nor our legions of special ops assassins.
(2) Afghanistan poses no concievable threat to us — nor to you, and probably none to Pakistan. The Tailiban’s support for al Qaeda’s attack on the US (to the extent that they did support or facilitate it) was a one-off event, for which they paid dearly. There is no evidence or logic to suggest they found the experience so enjoyable that they will repeat it.
(3) As a suggestion, perhaps America might wonder why it alone among the world’s nations burns with fear of attack by weapons of mass destruction. Everyone else seems to be sleeping well at night. Perhaps we conduct our foreign affairs in a more rational manner, rather than challenging the world to fight us.
SecDef Gate would probably reject these answers as folly. What could America learn from our allies, or anyone? We are exceptional!
Other posts about SecDef Gates
- Secretary Gates would be a hero – if speeches could reform DoD, 6 May 2008
- I was wrong about SecDef Gates – here is a more accurate view of him, 7 May 2008 — A sarcastic title.
- Obama’s national security team: I hope you didn’t really believe in change?, 26 November 2008
- Does Secretary of Defense Gates have cojones grande?, 8 April 2009
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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
- About America’s national defence strategy and machinery
- About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – my articles
- About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – studies & reports
Posts about our wars in Afghanistan:
- Scorecard #2: How well are we doing in Iraq? Afghanistan?, 31 October 2003
- Quote of the day: this is America’s geopolitical strategy in action, 26 February 2008 — George Friedman of Statfor on the Afghanistan War.
- Another perspective on Afghanistan, a reply to George Friedman, 27 February 2008
- How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008
- Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
- We are withdrawing from Afghanistan, too (eventually), 21 April 2008
- Roads in Afghanistan, a new weapon to win 4GW’s?, 26 April 2008
- A powerful weapon, at the sight of which we should tremble and our enemies rejoice, 2 June 2008
- Brilliant, insightful articles about the Afghanistan War, 8 June 2008
- The good news about COIN in Afghanistan is really bad news, 20 August 2008
- Stratfor says that our war in Pakistan grows hotter; Palin seems OK with that, 12 September 2008
- Pakistan warns America about their borders, and their sovereignty, 14 September 2008
- Weekend reading about … foreign affairs, 19 October 2008
- “Strategic Divergence: The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda” by George Friedman, 31 January 2009
- America sends forth its privateers to pillage, bold corsairs stealing from you and I, 9 February 2009