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(Stars and Stripes)   Robert Gates goes off on NATO: "What do you do when, as is the case today with NATO in Afghanistan, some of your allies don't want to fight? Or they impose caveats on where, when and how their forces may be used?"   (stripes.com) divider line 177
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4722 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Apr 2008 at 5:57 PM (6 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2008-04-23 06:28:20 PM
Ready_Cents: It really saddens me that Germany is such a pussified country nowadays. We used to be so badass and now this. For shame.

Hey what about the good things to come out of Germany in the 1930's and 1940s...
 
2008-04-23 06:28:23 PM
Robin Hoodie: Uncle Karl:

The US is not exactly run by the same folks either.
These days we are a little less trustworthy and a lot more 1984ish.

We're worse today? What are we doing comparable to McCarthyism, segregation, etc?


Hoo golly, that's a zinger of a question.

Well the whole PATRIOT and PATRIOT II. Warrantless wiretaps. Carnivore. Etc.
 
2008-04-23 06:28:55 PM
Article 5 of the NATO treaty (new window) anyone? Leaving the topic of Iraq aside, shouldn't we take the Afghanistan situation as an opportune time to re-examine NATO? If countries are only going to fulfill their obligations to an organization when it suits them, isn't it time to question the purpose of the agreement? It's situations like this that make me wonder if Orwell was wrong about the necessity of multi-polar hegemony. God I hate the human race sometimes.
 
2008-04-23 06:29:24 PM
ace0spades: As a Canadian all I can say is NATO countries need to put away their purses and come play with the big boys, or perhaps they should rethink their membership. Canada has been slogging away in the most dangerous part of Afghanistan with little relief or support from countries other than the USA (Thanks for the air support gents) and the Brits.

I can picture these countries saying "We sent troops! Look! There they are!" and then when you look over they're twiddling their thumbs in the playground.

Kudos to France for sending another 1000 troops to the South.


You do realize NATO always was really a mutual defense league right?

I applaud you icebacks for doing your part, but calm down or something.
 
2008-04-23 06:29:31 PM
Treaties aren't what they used to be, I guess.

/Or maybe they are.
 
2008-04-23 06:29:41 PM
Sounds like someone doesn't know how to play by the rules.
If you are the Ambassador of your nation, and you disregard the advice of your allies and decide to go to war alone. Then do so and don't biatch about it when your ass gets handed to you.

After which, don't biatch and complain when they set new rules in order for them to give you help....

Didn't know that Americans as a nation were such stuck up assholes. But then again, this is Bush's America.
 
2008-04-23 06:30:30 PM
aguynVegas: Ready_Cents: It really saddens me that Germany is such a pussified country nowadays. We used to be so badass and now this. For shame.

Hey what about the good things to come out of Germany in the 1930's and 1940s...


The VW bug?
 
2008-04-23 06:31:03 PM
Uncle Karl

first off, illegal wiretaps, torture, and murdering foreign citizens was the order of the day when NATO was formed. Some kind of Cold War or some such was the battle cry then.

Next, the Soviets didn't do a whole lot to free France, more to the point, their brief alliance with the Nazi's allowed it
 
2008-04-23 06:31:17 PM
Nabb1: If we were talking about Iraq, I might see the point, but Afghanistan and the Taliban all but begged to be invaded.

Yeah, and there'd be sufficient troops there if some moron didn't decide to run off to Iraq.
 
2008-04-23 06:31:38 PM
to happen...oops
 
2008-04-23 06:32:35 PM
Gates, FTA:

Not counting the United States, NATO has more than two million men and women in uniform, yet we struggle to sustain the deployment of less than 30,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and are forced to scrounge, hat in hand, to replace a few helicopters.

European countries have Muslims rioting in their streets. They have Sharia law movements in their democracies. If they want to be pacifistic, equivocating, relativist pussies in the face of this, so be it.

The generations of the U.S. protecting them should then end.
 
2008-04-23 06:33:39 PM
BTW - Big ups to the armed forces of Canada, the UK, the Netherlands and Poland. We know you try hard even though your governments have nearly stripped you to the bone militarily. If I'm forgetting any Nordic nations, my bad.
 
2008-04-23 06:34:41 PM
keylock71: Imagine that... countries imposing caveats on how their forces can be used.

Don't they know they should all be bowing down before America and doing whatever we wish?


Maybe you should have a talk with your boss about unilateral invasions and cowboy politics. Mr Gates...

...or to put it in folksy terms: "You've made your bed, now lie in it..."


I said the same thing about Kosovo and Somolia. Why is it our problem?
 
2008-04-23 06:35:03 PM
Robin Hoodie: first off, illegal wiretaps, torture, and murdering foreign citizens was the order of the day when NATO was formed. Some kind of Cold War or some such was the battle cry then.

Next, the Soviets didn't do a whole lot to free France, more to the point, their brief alliance with the Nazi's allowed it


huh? the eastern front is what broke Germany.
Torture of foreign citizens is not ok when it is your allies citizens, it tends to piss them off.
 
2008-04-23 06:36:23 PM
"What do you do when, as is the case today with NATO in Afghanistan, some of your allies don't want to fight? Or they impose caveats on where, when and how their forces may be used?"

Pick better fights.

Oh, and also try not to shiat all over your allies for a few years. They remember that stuff.
 
2008-04-23 06:36:57 PM
FishingWithFredo: European countries have Muslims rioting in their streets.

You mean France, and those were poverty riots, not religious.

They have Sharia law movements in their democracies.
You mean the same fringe groups that exist in Canada and the US.

You could try less hate and more critical thinking there, skippy.
 
2008-04-23 06:38:31 PM
corn-bread: HoKr
Afghanistan is a NATO operation.

This may be true, but the modus operandi of NATO has always been that "attacking one member is considered an attack on all members." While the U.S. invaded as a result of 9/11, it would be a stretch to consider that a state sponsored attack.

Was the Taliban government complacent? Perhaps. But NATO's intent was to be a defensive alliance. Clearly they (debateably) see this as a war of aggression.


No. It was decided by NATO after 9/11 that the attacks were consistent with the treaty and warranted a NATO response.
 
2008-04-23 06:39:30 PM
homerdrew415Leaving the topic of Iraq aside, shouldn't we take the Afghanistan situation as an opportune time to re-examine NATO? If countries are only going to fulfill their obligations to an organization when it suits them, isn't it time to question the purpose of the agreement? It's situations like this that make me wonder if Orwell was wrong about the necessity of multi-polar hegemony. God I hate the human race sometimes.

Actually you've got a good point. The Soviet Union is dead and gone and the Russians aren't the military threat they used to be. We have to question whether NATO is still desirable in a world without Russia. Plus one of the reasons for NATO was to prevent a European war by making it such that the Europeans wouldn't need armies of their own.

On the other hand one of the big reasons America's strength in the 20th and early 21st century was due to the support of its allies. Losing those allies over a petty spat in Afghanistan and Iraq would be tragic for America.

Also and I cannot stress this enough don't call your allies "surrender monkeys" or they'll never help you. Their leaders need to be able to justify putting their soldiers at risk or lose the election. When you call them cowards it does not make it easier to convince the electorate.

Finally I'm afraid you already live in a world with multi polar hegemony. The EU economy is bigger than Americas. China has already become a serious global power and the Russians are rearming. There is a fair chance that the Chinese will surpass America in military strength this century.
 
2008-04-23 06:39:45 PM
Uncle Karl: ObeliskToucher: I'm pretty sure we made a payment on that debt in 1917-18, and retired it completely sometime in the early 40s.

We were kinda late to both, and the USSR sorta really helped on the second.


We waited for an invitation on the first one (it was delivered to the captain of the Lusitania, IIRC). As for the second, ever hear of Lend-Lease?
 
2008-04-23 06:41:51 PM
ObeliskToucher: Uncle Karl: ObeliskToucher: I'm pretty sure we made a payment on that debt in 1917-18, and retired it completely sometime in the early 40s.

We were kinda late to both, and the USSR sorta really helped on the second.

We waited for an invitation on the first one (it was delivered to the captain of the Lusitania, IIRC). As for the second, ever hear of Lend-Lease?


You mean that nice program where we tried to make tons of money and stay out of the whole deal?

The USA in that time really did want to stay out of it, try a little less revisionist history. People are people, take off the rose colored glasses.
 
2008-04-23 06:43:08 PM
Speaking of Lend Lease the Brits just paid it off a couple of years ago.
 
2008-04-23 06:43:36 PM
Dr. Mojo PhD: No. It was decided by NATO after 9/11 that the attacks were consistent with the treaty and warranted a NATO response.

Unfortunately that was not a state sponsored attack, so it is kinda hard to claim that. Also why did we not attack Saudi Arabia? Most of the folks were from there, and they funded it. oh yeah, Bushie loves those folks, there are even some nice pictures of him playing kissyface with them.
 
2008-04-23 06:43:37 PM
Uncle Karl:

huh? the eastern front is what broke Germany.
Torture of foreign citizens is not ok when it is your allies citizens, it tends to piss them off.


Gotta take these mittens off while I type. Germany was allied with the Soviets while it invaded France. France may have never fallen had it not been for that very alliance. Finally, who cares about this? Are we seriously arguing about how much France owes us? I for one think they owe us for Euro-Disney too, but I'm not about to suggest that everyone agree with me.
 
2008-04-23 06:43:47 PM
Some NATO countries treat their military as a jobs program. Their "soldiers" have an average age in their 40s, and don't see their function as fighting. They're essentially useless, and we should just kick them out of NATO and stick with countries that are willing toe shoulder their responsibilities. It would have the further advantage of not obligating us to defend nations that have no interest in defending themselves.
 
2008-04-23 06:43:59 PM
Here's a thought, tell NATO they have 1 year to clean up their act or we will "strategically withdraw". Then the good ol' US of A can call up China & Russia, saying: "Hey guys, the Brits, Dutch, Japanese, Canadians and the Polish South Koreans and us want to start a club where we all agree to kick ass and take names to anyone that farks with any of us. We're already all economically dependent on each other, why not make sure no one attacks us either."

/I'm just saying...
 
2008-04-23 06:44:49 PM
Robin Hoodie: Gotta take these mittens off while I type. Germany was allied with the Soviets while it invaded France. France may have never fallen had it not been for that very alliance. Finally, who cares about this? Are we seriously arguing about how much France owes us? I for one think they owe us for Euro-Disney too, but I'm not about to suggest that everyone agree with me.

Because you claim they owe us for the other stuff. In reality I think all those things were all done for everyones own reasons and no one owes the other a damn thing.
 
2008-04-23 06:46:28 PM
homerdrew415: Here's a thought, tell NATO they have 1 year to clean up their act or we will "strategically withdraw". Then the good ol' US of A can call up China & Russia, saying: "Hey guys, the Brits, Dutch, Japanese, Canadians and the Polish South Koreans and us want to start a club where we all agree to kick ass and take names to anyone that farks with any of us. We're already all economically dependent on each other, why not make sure no one attacks us either."

/I'm just saying...


What a great idea, then when the Chinese dump dollars we can all have you to thank for not being able to buy bread or gas, much less be able to fight anyone.
 
2008-04-23 06:47:37 PM
jjorsett: Some NATO countries treat their military as a jobs program. Their "soldiers" have an average age in their 40s, and don't see their function as fighting. They're essentially useless, and we should just kick them out of NATO and stick with countries that are willing toe shoulder their responsibilities. It would have the further advantage of not obligating us to defend nations that have no interest in defending themselves.

That would be great for our economy, oh wait you are serious.

The military is a tool, it is not the be all and end all of a nation.
 
2008-04-23 06:47:59 PM
submitter: Or they impose caveats on where, when and how their forces may be used?

You mean like the US refusing to participate in missions where the top guy is not American?
 
2008-04-23 06:49:49 PM
homerdrew415: Here's a thought, tell NATO they have 1 year to clean up their act or we will "strategically withdraw". Then the good ol' US of A can call up China & Russia, saying: "Hey guys, the Brits, Dutch, Japanese, Canadians and the Polish South Koreans and us want to start a club where we all agree to kick ass and take names to anyone that farks with any of us. We're already all economically dependent on each other, why not make sure no one attacks us either."

/I'm just saying...


Great idea. I'm sure the Chinese and Russians will stop once they've conquered half of Europe with your help. They're trustworthy right? I'm sure they won't do something like conquer the rest of Europe to gain access to the Atlantic and become the world's most powerful country. Even if they do I'm sure they'll be friendly to America. Truly the best plan ever.
 
2008-04-23 06:50:14 PM
bigbadideasinaction: Yeah, and there'd be sufficient troops there if some moron didn't decide to run off to Iraq.

So if NATO countries refuse to back their talk of assisting the US with action, it's America's fault for needing NATO assistance in the first place. And if America hadn't invaded Iraq, it could take all the slack in Afghanistan and there'd be no need to think about NATO. Seems like a win / win for NATO countries who don't want to help the US - either America is at fault for being stretched too thin, in which case we're not helping, or America can take care of itself, in which case we're not helping.
 
2008-04-23 06:50:37 PM
Uncle Karl:

Because you claim they owe us for the other stuff. In reality I think all those things were all done for everyones own reasons and no one owes the other a damn thing.


I think this started around here, typically you become a part of an alliance in good faith. Some of us think that participating in an agreement only when it is convenient is a little disingenuous. On one hand you demand that the american government abide by arbitrary agreements [not to torture], on the other you suggest that other governments don't need to abide by their agreements [NATO]. Make up your mind or get the fudge out
 
2008-04-23 06:51:41 PM
Dr. Mojo PhD

No. It was decided by NATO after 9/11 that the attacks were consistent with the treaty and warranted a NATO response.


Read the Afghanistan docs on the NATO site.
NATO made a 5 year commitment that was suppose to bring about reconstruction. Six years later the country is no closer to stability than when we started.

From the outside, it appears that NATO members see this as a potentially indefinite commitment to a non-threat.
 
2008-04-23 06:51:49 PM
Captain Darling

Its Bush's fault for insulting all of America's European allies and then getting surprised when they were reluctant to fight and die for America.
 
2008-04-23 06:52:42 PM
MasterThief:
Bosnia and Kosovo would like a word with you.

mediaho:
a.k.a. the "You Forgot Poland" defense.


You sure you don't mean the "You Forgot Rwanda" excuse? Where in a nation the size
of Maryland, around 800,000 people were butchered with medieval cruelty while Europe
and the rest of the world complained that the U.S. wasn't doing anything about it.
 
2008-04-23 06:53:03 PM
Uncle Karl: Unfortunately that was not a state sponsored attack, so it is kinda hard to claim that. Also why did we not attack Saudi Arabia? Most of the folks were from there, and they funded it. oh yeah, Bushie loves those folks, there are even some nice pictures of him playing kissyface with them.

The article says nothing about it being a state sponsored attack, so whatever your point is regarding that, it is clearly, wholly, and demonstrably wrong. The wording of the article dictates an "armed attack", not a "state attack".

Furthermore, ex post facto support can be said to be state-sponsored -- that in so far as a state sheltered them, it accorded them support. And Afghanistan most certainly did shelter them. So even if you weren't completely wrong concerning the state-sponsorship element, even if it were true and article five was not worded as it was, you'd still be wrong.

As to why we didn't attack Saudi Arabia, neither NATO nor the UN gives nations the right to attack a nation based on nationals of that country fighting on behalf of another country. That sort of specious reasoning is like asking why the United States didn't bomb itself when it discovered John Walker Lindh was fighting for the Taliban.
 
2008-04-23 06:53:53 PM
that was a good speech...
 
2008-04-23 06:54:25 PM
"What do you do when, as is the case today with NATO in Afghanistan, some of your allies don't want to fight? Or they impose caveats on where, when and how their forces may be used?"

You probably stop mismanaging your wars and transparently using them for irresponsible corporate profiteering, disgusting your allies.
 
2008-04-23 06:55:02 PM
You sure you don't mean the "You Forgot Rwanda" excuse? Where in a nation the size
of Maryland, around 800,000 people were butchered with medieval cruelty while Europe
and the rest of the world complained that the U.S. wasn't doing anything about it.


Funny thing is that it was the French who put a stop to that mess. True they were late to the party but better late than never.
 
2008-04-23 06:55:15 PM
I'm glad I succeeded in having Uncle Karl and Zanovar both talking trash to me
 
2008-04-23 06:55:23 PM
AirForceVet: I nonconcur with your comments. NATO members have supported us in numerous crisises since its creation.

Aside from Afghanistan, name one.

NATO is not an organization at the beck and call of us, the US. Perhaps if our country's leadership hadn't dropped the ball, pulled US troops out, and run off into Iraq before Afghanistan was dealt with fully, maybe our allies could take us more seriously.

Horsepuckey. NATO has been schizophrenic about the U.S. almost from day 1 - the French getting butthurt in 1959 and pulling out of the unified command, the Pershing missile protests in the 1980's (done when Europe damn well knew the Soviets had the same kinds of missiles pointed at Western Europe). When the Warsaw Pact went belly-up, so did any rational reason for NATO to exist or for Europe to help with it.

I mean Afghanistan did harbor & provided safe haven to the people who did 9/11. That's why NATO went into Afghanistan with us. I don't recall any Iraqi agents with the 9/11 hijackers, do you?

NATO is not a unitary whole. It's composed of some genuine U.S. allies, some who are still historically grateful to us, and a great many ingrates who use the alliance as an excuse to not spend money on their own militaries. My best friend from college is in Kabul right now on the ISAF staff. He jokes about how they're all one big happy coalition, but there is no mistaking who is doing the work (the U.S., Canadians, British, Dutch) and who is farting off (the Germans and French, natch, but also the Italians and Spanish).

Why question how France, Germany or any NATO member meet their obligations now after we screwed up over five years ago? Seems like Gates needs to tell his Boss he FUed.

If the European members of NATO really wanted the ability to influence our foreign policy in the post-cold war world, they would have maintained expeditionary forces that could keep up with ours. They don't, but they expect ours to be at their beck and call in case the Russians get nostalgic. Sorry, but no.

Europe and the U.S. just have too many different priorities at this point. Most European nations refuse to spend money on anything other than a token military capability (going to the point where they are almost entirely parasitic on U.S. signals intelligence, airlift capacity, and logistics networks). Their diplomacy is based on bribery, empty threats and legal fictions - they have nothing to back it up with. (Look how their attempts to negotiate an end to Iran's nuclear weapons program have turned out. Look at how laughable the EU's much-ballyhooed Rapid Reaction Force has turned out to be) Too many European nations have instead chosen to spend their resources on building massively bloated and unsustainable welfare states.

The U.S. and Europe are just too different now. Lasting alliances must be based upon shared purposes and a common vision. NATO has neither one. I think it's time for the U.S. to get out of Europe completely and look for more strategically advantageous bases elsewhere. There are no permanent allies, only permanent interests. (Kissinger made that line famous, but he was only summarizing the famed French diplomat Talleyrand.)
 
2008-04-23 06:55:37 PM
From TFA: Even after September 11th, and a string of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, the publics of many of our democratic allies view the terror threat in a fundamentally different way than we do

What, you mean rationally as opposed to emotionally and illogically?
 
2008-04-23 06:56:10 PM
Uncle Karl: You mean France, and those were poverty riots, not religious.

Glad I have you here to interpret for me why there are lawless Muslim neighborhoods in France. Let me guess, the U.S. is in some way responsible for their repressive poverty too, right?


They have Sharia law movements in their democracies.

Uncle Karl: You mean the same fringe groups that exist in Canada and the US.

Yes, fringe groups like the Archbishop of Canturbury and the Dutch justice minister and a family court judge in Germany.

Uncle Karl: You could try less hate and more critical thinking there, skippy.

And you could try a little less default moral relativism and more critical thinking there, Jif.

Anybody who has a problem with the U.S. and NATO taking action in Afghanistan following 9/11, and has no problem with NATO members not being willing to do their part to achieve victory there, is not a person worth debating on matters of national and international security.

And as expected, this thread is rife with such people.
 
2008-04-23 06:56:38 PM
hariseldon: You sure you don't mean the "You Forgot Rwanda" excuse? Where in a nation the size
of Maryland, around 800,000 people were butchered with medieval cruelty while Europe
and the rest of the world complained that the U.S. wasn't doing anything about it.


That's the biatch thing about being the world's superpower -- you're looked at specifically for that. They also biatched that Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom weren't helping, so don't feel too alone.

corn-bread: Read the Afghanistan docs on the NATO site.
NATO made a 5 year commitment that was suppose to bring about reconstruction. Six years later the country is no closer to stability than when we started.

From the outside, it appears that NATO members see this as a potentially indefinite commitment to a non-threat.


Making a five-year commitment doesn't mean you automatically uncommit yourself after five years. If I sign a contract with a job, I don't immediately quit the day the terms run out.
 
2008-04-23 06:56:56 PM
I'm glad I succeeded in having Uncle Karl and Zanovar both talking trash to me

Glad I could make you happy Homer
 
2008-04-23 06:58:50 PM
Uncle Karl 2008-04-23 06:47:37 PM
The military is a tool, it is not the be all and end all of a nation.


I never said it was. I'm saying that we stop pretending that the slacker nations have any reason to be in NATO, which is in part a mutual-defense pact. There's no reason to take on the risk of having to defend a nation unless we're also going to get the benefit of that nation's full participation in the pact.
 
2008-04-23 06:59:18 PM
hariseldon: while Europe
and the rest of the world complained that the U.S. wasn't doing anything about it.


Clinton and Albright went to great lengths to not label Rwanda a "genocide" because they would have had to act, as per the UN charter, and when they finally did send troops, their only involvement was "liberating" the airport ...from the Canadians.

Great Joerb guys.
 
2008-04-23 06:59:33 PM
Dr. Mojo PhD That's the biatch thing about being the world's superpower -- you're looked at specifically for that.

Well in that case I've got good news for you. China should be more than happy to take up the slack.
 
2008-04-23 07:01:45 PM
zanovar: Dr. Mojo PhD That's the biatch thing about being the world's superpower -- you're looked at specifically for that.

Well in that case I've got good news for you. China should be more than happy to take up the slack.


They aren't a superpower yet.
 
2008-04-23 07:03:22 PM
Dr. Mojo PhD
From the outside, it appears that NATO members see this as a potentially indefinite commitment to a non-threat.

Making a five-year commitment doesn't mean you automatically uncommit yourself after five years. If I sign a contract with a job, I don't immediately quit the day the terms run out.


No. You quit if there is non-performance.
The resurgence of the Taliban and the U.S. using NATO as a troop stopgap measure certainly qualifies.

A five year commitment is a five year commitment. That's the time frame. The time frame was NOT "until Afghanistan is stable". That is the task to be performed.
 
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