[The Economist, U.K.]



Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia

NATO Still 'Clueless' About What to Do Next


"No matter how well Afghan soldiers are equipped, no matter how modern the weapons being put into their hands, most will run away during their first military encounter. No, they aren't bad fighters. They just don't understand what, why and from whom they are protecting."


By Vladislav Vorobyev


Translated By Yekaterina Blinova


December 4, 2009


Russia - Rossijskaya Gazeta - Original Article (Russian)


In an address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, President Obama lays out his plan for Afghanistan.


C-SPAN VIDEO: President Barack Obama announces his long awaited strategy on Afghanistan, calling for 30,000 additional U.S. troops, Dec. 1, 00:39:34RealVideo

There's no doubt that increasingly, the members of the NATO alliance are coming to a conclusion - the time for the painless use of delaying tactics has nearly run out. To find real answers to the most complex issues, a meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday brought together foreign ministers from the 28 member countries. Washington, for example, demands that NATO become a more aggressive organization. But the truth is that up to now, not all of its members understand that this isn't about Russia anymore.


For a long time, NATO intentionally acted with extreme languidness "on all fronts." Languidly, it discussed various ideas for a common European defense. Languidly, it reacted to the desire of the George W. Bush Administration's desire to build missile silos in close proximity to Russian borders. Languidly, it helped the U.S. fight the Taliban in Afghanistan.


But life outside the walls of NATO headquarters in Brussels is becoming more dynamic every day. And almost unbelievably: with their initiatives, the U.S. and Russia have awakened NATO. But what has taken place over the past three days shows that NATO has yet to grasp why it has been woken. At the same time, it still doesn't have a clue about what to do next.


There are a great number of questions and problems that demand immediate solutions. And so far there are no answers at all. On Thursday, NATO foreign ministers will decide what to do with Afghanistan. And on Friday, for the first time after the events in South Ossetia [Georgia], the NATO-Russia Council will be conducted at the foreign ministers level.


True, even on Tuesday, Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, wasn't sure that the Council would be held. Rogozin announced that the Canadian delegation had decided to block any decisions that could be adopted on Friday with Russia. It's possible that Rogozin was deliberately raising the temperature on the problem, realizing once again that NATO isn't ready for a serious dialogue. The wake-up call turned out to be extremely effective. Already on Wednesday, after several consultations with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Rogozin said: "We have found resolutions to all complex problems, and we have a high degree of coordination on current issues." And on Thursday he added: "The work of the NATO-Russia Council is back on track." Nonetheless, there's no doubt that in Brussels on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov can't count on untroubled talks.


[The Telegraph, U.K.]


Inarguably, NATO members have a much easier time exercising their sharp tempers and zeal in respect to Russia. A few sharp statements suffice to make you a hero - having given Moscow a little heat. And if suddenly the majority of NATO members decide that it's "enough with the heat," it's easy to change the tone of your statements and publically declare "I've hit 'reset.'"


Afghanistan is entirely different. There, statements alone won't do. They must act - and very wisely at that - which is something that NATO generals have never learned. Because military officers (and not just in NATO) are taught war tactics - not tactics for restoring a peaceful way of life. In other words, Afghanistan needs not only bayonets and tanks, but shovels, concrete mixers and road pavers. And lots of jobs. But bad luck - with 36 pounds of explosives, the Taliban can quickly convert a road paver into a battering ram. And NATO generals as well as their subordinates don't know where and how to use all of this construction equipment. They're paid to destroy - not to build.


However, even when they're successful at building something, the new edifice is blown sky high almost right away. And this is certainly not because Afghans don't want to move from their squalid shacks into comfortable living quarters. It's simply because sabotage is almost the only source of income for the greatest segment of the population of this poor (in every sense of the word) nation.



The venture to create a fully-fledged Afghan army that can take upon itself - within a few years - the responsibility of preserving law and order across the entire territory of Afghanistan, doesn't inspire optimism either. Evidently, no matter how well Afghan soldiers are equipped, no matter how modern the weapons being put into their hands, most will run away during their first military encounter. No, they aren't bad fighters. They just don't understand what, why and from whom they are protecting.


With their guns under their pillows, Afghans successfully protect themselves and their families in domestic situations. But they're unlikely to spill blood for Hamid Karzai and his government. Karzai can be successfully protected by U.S. Special Forces, but only for the extraordinary sums of money being paid for them by Washington. So it's laughable to talk about any sort of independent Afghan government. And this is just one of Kabul's huge bouquet of problems.



Nonetheless, Washington continues to insist that it knows how to end the Afghan epic with a victory. To do this, U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Wednesday [Russia time] his intention to send more than 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan. And the White House expects similar steps from other NATO members. Specifically, 5,000 to 7,000 new "bayonets" to be deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months. That is precisely why Washington requires NATO to become more aggressive. But is the alliance capable of choosing a more complicated path?



Le Monde, France: Nicolas Sarkozy's 'Neither-Nor' on the Afghan Surge  

Liberation, France: Obama's Hesitation on Afghanistan May Cost Him Dearly

The Nation, Pakistan : Obama's Speech: 'Servility' Toward U.S. Has its Limits

The Nation, Pakistan : Pakistan Can't Allow U.S. Surge Along Afghan Border  

The Frontier Post, Pakistan: U.S. Swallows India's 'Lies' on Kashmir  

The Nation, Pakistan: Hillary's 'Unfortunate' PR Stunt Falls Flat  

The Nation, Pakistan: Hillary Clinton Should Mind Her Own Media!  

Pak Tribune, Pakistan: In Waziristan, Americans Must Now Stand Aside  

The Frontier Post, Pakistan: 'Rivers of Blood:' West Could Care Less for Afghan Deaths
The Frontier Post, Pakistan: Tell America to Stop Backing Terrorist Attacks on Iran
The Frontier Post, Pakistan: America Reveals Dark Side of the Human Intellect

The Australian, Australia: Before 9-11, Docs Show Split in al-Qaeda Over Attack on U.S.

Asia Times, Hong Kong: China Maps End to the Afghanistan War

The Telegraph, U.K.: Obama Reported 'Furious' at McChrystal Speech  

Gazeta, Russia: U.S. and Russia Share Responsibility for 'Afghan Anthill'

The Frontier Post, Pakistan: Americans Will Pay Dearly For 'Flirting' with Afghan War

The Frontier Post, Pakistan: This Time, the Americans Have Gone Too Far!  

The Frontier Post, Pakistan: It's Obama's Afghanistan Now


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