NATO in Afghanistan – no alternative to success

Posted in NATO | 30-Sep-06 | Author: Dieter Farwick

WSN Editor-in-Chief Dieter Farwick: "There is no excuse for failure."

It’s a real shame that NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and NATO SACEUR, General James L. Jones, have to travel like beggars to NATO capitals to ask for some more soldiers here and there for the ongoing NATO commitment in Afghanistan.

It is obvious that the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse. Warlords, drug barons and the Taliban but the Afghan government as well as the US and NATO-plus forces under heavy pressure.

Success or failure in Afghanistan is less a military than a hard political question.

Are NATO nations and the committed non-NATO nations really resolved to win that war ?

NATO can only do what nations are willing to allow.

NATO and allied governments know what is at stake in Afghanistan :

It’s security and stability in Afghanistan and in the neighbouring Broader Middle East – from Central Asia, Pakistan to Israel.

A failure in Afghanistan would turn the strategic table in this fragile region against the West – including negative repercussions for energy security. A negative domino effect would lead to chaos, instabilities and – regional wars. Afghanistan would again become the safe haven for terrorists of all kinds.

NATO nations and their allies in Afghanistan can still decide whether they aim for success or accept defeat.

It is their political resolve which will decide the fate of the region and the NATO Alliance itself.

The mission should determine the military efforts to be put into Afghanistan.

It is not the other way that the existing forces in Afghanistan determine what they might be able to do.

It is not the question of 2000 soldiers more or less.

It is the objective of NATO’S commitment in Afghanistan.

A success in Afghanistan will improve security and stability in the whole region and will strengthen NATO internally and externally.

The coming NATO summit in November in Riga has to play a decisive role.

There, NATO nations should either declare that they are resolved to win the war in Afghanistan in due course with a minimum of own casualties or declare that they want to leave it as it is – praying for a good end. It would be the end of NATO as an efficient military organisation which can look back to more than 50 years of success.

To remember: In late 1995 NATO nations were willing and able to send about 60 000 soldiers to The Balkans within weeks and months – based upon common values, common objectives and solidarity.

NATO nations stand at strategic crossroads. On sign leads to success, the other to failure.

But – there is no excuse for failure.

If you want to know more about NATO's current issues, please, read the newsletter from Klaus Naumann: Afghanistan - Former NATO General Klaus Naumann: Impressions from Afghanistan and What NATO Should Do Now.