The US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates must be losing a lot of sleep at the moment. According to this,
"he worries "a great deal about the alliance (NATO) evolving into a two-tiered alliance in which you have some allies willing to fight and die to protect people's security and others who are not."
It's hard to believe after the debacle of the the illegal Kosovo intervention and the quagmire that Afghanistan is becoming that NATO started life as a defensive alliance.
Doug Bandow wrote this in the Freedom Daily in 1999-the context, Kosovo .
"By its own terms, NATO is a defensive alliance. It was, the allies explained, created for the purpose of deterring, not starting, war. The treaty preamble affirms the members' "desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments" and support for the "purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations," which bars aggressive war. The NATO accord goes on to state that an "armed attack against one or more of them ... shall be considered an attack against them all" and that they will exercise their right of self-defense under the UN Charter. When the Senate voted to expand NATO last year, it also added, with little debate, "other missions when there is a clear consensus among its members that there is a threat to the security and interests of NATO members." Even here, however, it takes an enormous stretch to suggest that NATO is authorized to attack Yugoslavia. Of course, enthusiasts of aggressive war believe, with Lewis Carroll's Humpty Dumpty, that words mean whatever they say they mean. Obviously Belgrade posed no threat to any surrounding state, let alone any NATO member."
Nine years on and it is clear the NATO invasion of Kosovo, according to former diplomat, Brian Barder, solved nothing. Indeed, he argues, it made this part of the Balkans even more dangerous a place.
"Those who assumed that the NATO aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999 over Kosovo had somehow solved that latest Balkan problem and removed it from a crowded international agenda have another think coming. We are now threatened not only with an imminent illegal and unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia by the Kosovo Albanians, but also with the prospect that it will promptly be recognised by the United States and some other western governments, perhaps even including that of the UK, with potentially disastrous consequences throughout the Balkans and beyond."
Fast forward a few years from Kosovo to Afghanistan. The second significant deployment of NATO troops. This time well outside the European theatre, and miles away from the original NATO purpose.
The Afghanistan invasion- Operation Enduring Freedom- was based on a rather tenuous legal assertion of self defence by the Bush administration following 9/11 attack. But it had been planned many months before.
"The US war on Afghanistan was also planned well in advance (at least a year or more) of the 9/11 attack that provided the claimed justification for it. It was part of the US strategic plan to control the vast oil and gas resources of Central Asia that former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski under President Carter explained the importance of in his 1997 book The Grand Chessboard. In it he referred to Eurasia as the "center of world power extending from Germany and Poland in the East through Russia and China to the Pacific and including the Middle East and Indian subcontinent." By dominating this region including Afghanistan with its strategic location, the US would assure it had access to and controlled the vast energy resources there."
But five years after the Taliban were toppled, the occupation, by the coalition of the willing ver.1, is becoming a nightmare of Iraqi proportions. In November 2006 the Senlis Council, a foreign policy think tank , stationed in Kabul, describes
"a humanitarian crisis of starvation and poverty has gripped the south of the country." Over half of Afghans live below the poverty line"
Corruption is rife among judges, government officials, police chiefs, and governors. According to one journalist, “to pay taxes in Kabul, one must first bribe the tax collector!” (The Nation, 10/30/06). While ordinary Afghans are starving, cabinet ministers in the U.S.-backed Karzai government have built ostentatious villas in Kabul on expensive real estate they granted to themselves after the U.S. invasion (NY Times, 8/23/06).
And today we see the NATO allies squabbling about whether young Germans, Italians, French or Spaniards should be sent to die to support the corrupt Karzai government. An unedifying sight and a sure sign that things are not going entirely as planned.
Since the end of the Cold War with NATO rummaging around for roles, it seems to have a unerring ability to pick the wrong ones.
...they never would be missed, they never would be missed...