Iraq – last chance for NATO

Posted in Broader Middle East , NATO , Iraq , Asia | 08-May-03 | Author: Dieter Farwick

The “military war” is almost over – won by the “Coalition of the willing” in a very convincing way.
Future might show that this military success was the easier part.
Now “nation building” and “reconstruction backed by diplomacy” form the agenda of the coming decade.
That long lasting process with a bunch of highly sensitive political and humanitarian problems can not be shouldered by the “Coalition of the willing”.
It goes without saying that the coalition has the lead for the first phase.
But what comes next ?
Experience shows that the UN are not able to build the necessary military back-up for the process of nation building.
UN’s military commitment – with UNPROFOR – in Former Republic of Yugoslavia was a disaster. The slaughter of thousands of Muslems under the eyes of UNPROFOR
should work as a deterrent against another UN attempt.
Single nations do not have the readiness and sustainability to command and control military forces in Iraq.
The only viable organisation which can shoulder that Herculean task is NATO.
NATO owns the material, human and intellectual resources to do the job.
Shortly after September 11 NATO invoked for the first time Article five of the NATO treaty and declared “collective defence”.
It was a strong signal of solidarity with the United States and the American people.
NATO is still under the status of collective defence. Who knows and who cares ?
After the declaration NATO faced almost completely disuse as alliance.
In the Afghanistan war United States hand picked resources and capabilities from indi-vidual NATO-nations.
After that war NATO was not asked to play any role in the phase of nation building.
Single nations – UK, Turkey , Germany - were chosen to run the business in Kabul.
In the system of six month shifts there is no continuity and sustainability – not to speak of any long term efficiency, but a heavy burden for the single nations.
NATO got the label “toolbox”.
Should the same happen in Iraq ?
It would be the end of NATO as a viable and reliable political-military organisation.
NATO-Headquarters are trained and used to build and sustain NATO-led operations of the kind asked now in Iraq. NATO earned a good record in FYR.
NATO-led HQs are able to integrate soldiers and civilians from troop contributing nations – NATO and non-NATO – and execute command and control over the necessary component and functional commands.
Even more important: NATO can be the platform to bring together again the members of the present coalition of the willing and additional NATO and non-NATO states.
It is the last chance for NATO.
The future of NATO should be worth to overcome national interests and national con-cerns.
If the prognosis is correct that we face a very dangerous world in the time to come, then no single nation – not even the United States – will be able to go alone.
Paul Kennedys book “The rise and fall of the Great powers” should be regarded as a sign on the wall.