Two Minutes with Dr. Yahya: ِArabs & NATO Affairs
دقيقتان مع الدكتور يحيى: شؤون الناتو والعرب
Philosophy of Arab Manifesto مشروع النهضة العربي
Former professor of Comparative sociology
Is NATO “Alive and Kicking” OR dying Out?
Let’s begin considering this joke:
Two leaders of NATO Secretary General and EU (Jeep de Hoop Scheffer, and EU High Representative, Javier Solana) have breakfast with God, after finishing breakfast, JdH
– “Tell me God, will NATO ever be a truly global security and defense organization?”
God thinks hard about the question, and then said:
– “Yes, but not in your lifetime.”
Javier Solana not to be outdone and having much experience of both NATO and EU, poses a similar question:
-“God, will the EU ever be a functioning security and defense organization?” At first, God looked baffled, and then worried, and after a seeming eternity replies:
“Yes, Javier, but not in my lifetime.”
With Greece challenge if succeeded to leave the European Union economically, NATO problems may escalate. The fear of leaving the Euro, may encourage Italy, Spain, and France to follow suite. This is not a mare speculation, but an intellectual Guess. This article was published more than three years ago (Feb 2009), where hundreds of readers read it and commented on the issue, but I believe the article still relevent in our days (May 2012). The article reads:
In two months, NATO the world’s largest and most durable military alliances will celebrate its 60th anniversary. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has racked up four incomplete achievements, One was facing down the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The other, the process of “war on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan which still bringing serious challenges, especially in Afghanistan, the third is the tension between the U.S. and some of its European allies, and finally, the newly resurgent Russia through the SCO.
In a gesture during a NATO-Ukraine Commission roundtable at the NATO defense ministers meeting in Krakow, Poland, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO secretary-general acknowledges that the challenge in Afghanistan is complex. But added that no current rift in the alliance. While he has been an outspoken advocate of sending more troops to Afghanistan and a critic of some allies members hesitates to provide more assistance in the NATO operations.
This year marked the end of the five-year term as secretary-general which will end two months after the 60th anniversary celebration this year in May. While in his office in Brussels. Some critics asked him about one of the challenges face NATO in terms of incongruity and divisions among the allies. He denied drifting of members because NATO is operating in two different political and security environments which certainly different 60 years ago. Now NATO is facing cyber-defense and energy security discussions. In addition to the fifty thousand soldiers in Afghanistan and will be more soon. He emphasized that NATO still in the process of transformation, NATO is “as alive and kicking as it has ever been” as if NATO still in a child in his mother’s womb. He did not say reviving or dying [After 60 years old] as some might describe such transformation.
The idea of NATO death
NATO as a global arm force may face various obstacles. Some people say that crisis among the allies are not simply post-cold war or post 9/11, phenomena, the best times of NATO are when serious disputes occur. International events and disputes create opposing divisions in NATO with less influence on the forces vitality. In 2003, comments were made by commentators such as the need for existence of NATO. They say NATO is aging now and is dying, so time has come and gone, and today there is no legitimate reason for NATO to exist. Although the strong difference exhibited in the alliance over the war on Iraq have accelerated NATO irrelevancy, the root causes of its problems go much deeper, Consequently for bothy the US and EU, NATO is the best an errilevent distraction, and at worst toxic to their responsive contemporary security needs.
Challenges for the NATO:
NATO’s faces three broad challenges in it 60th anniversary, the map future for NATO reform has something to do with the long term vitality which is ultimately determined by several influences:
1. the challenge posed by future international events to its existing structure;
2. the challenge of existing abilities; and ;
3. the challenges of existing quality of relations between the allies, through the idea of keeping solidarity alive.
Concerning events, it is near impossible to assess NATO response to events that are as yet unknown. But the problem NATO will face is the future of the loss of threat NATO originally designed to counter. What NATO will do? How its structure will be in terms of enlargement or reduction of membership and abilities.
Concerning the quality of relations between NATO allies, it is more uncertain. The state of transatlantic relations was widely debated subject before 9/11. The divisions were obviously perceived to the war on Iraq, where demonstrations covered too many European nations against the war on Iraq. The period after 9/11, until now, has been some of the greatest highs for NATO, and the greatest lows between NATO allies. The high point certainly was on September 12, 2001, when NATO invoked the principle of Article 5. The lowest point however, was in 2002, the run up to the course of Operation Iraq Freedom (OIF) as they called it. Such war created an ample discussion and debate among NATO allies. Those who support and those who opposed the war on Iraq, but they remained convinced of the case against it.
Colin Powell asked NATO in Dec. 2003 to consider expanding its role. But many aspects have yet to be clarified, such as where and how about involvement in training forces, numbers, and states. On training Iraqi security forces was the most debate, two views arise: one with and one without, for the plans of US in the area which has less concern among the allies. This division of opinions may threat solidarity. Afghanistan was and still considered a tough job for the NATO and need more elaboration.
NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism is a complex challenge in Afghanistan the troops have increased by almost tenfold since 2004, and NATO still calling on its member states to do more. But the alliance essentially failed to achieve as recently announced by the British and France. Justification of increasing troops by President Barack Obama was that Afghanistan is a nation from the Middle Ages in 2001 and one of the poorest in the world, no one expect to finish the job in the marsh to democracy in eight years to the model of the United States or the Netherlands. Therefore, to do better, NATO need more forces. (President Obama recently authorized deploying an additional 17,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan). Such troops are needed to rebuilding, helping to reconstruct, and to develop a nation. In fact, Afghanistan is more serious problem for not for the governments of NATO only, but also the EU, the World Bank, the United Nations, important individual donors like Japan and others which need a comprehensive approach. Despite the role NATO plays in Afghanistan, polls show negative support of the troops on Afghan Land. What was striking about these polls was for the question: “By whom would you like to be governed — by an Afghan government or by the Taliban?” 82% say by the Afghan government and only 4% select Taliban. But in terms of the civilian casualties from air strikes in an environment like Afghanistan no one can avoid civilian casualties completely, the polls negatively high. This issue will have negative consequences as expected for the hearts and minds.
While the US stressed the need for alliance members besides the U.S. to step up to the plate and take on more responsibility, many of them disagree that Afghanistan is different than Iraq. Because NATO’s objectives in the region is to look at Afghanistan in a much stronger regional context with Pakistan where such concern is not shared by NATO members.
Other challenges: The dangerous proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the missiles to transport those weapons over longer distances which make NATO emphasizes on the core function which is defending the integrity of NATO members. These two challenges may be dealt with in another article. (2000 words)
@Hasan Yahya, Michigan, April 2012
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