A Hard Look at NATO is Long Overdue
By John F. McManus
John Birch Society
“This is one of the most challenging tasks NATO has ever taken on, but it is a critical contribution to international security” - NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
Sold to the American people in 1949 as a buffer against possible Soviet expansion to the West, NATO has always been a creature of the United Nations. It is now being employed as an armed force for the world body, just as was intended from its outset.
Follow this link to the original source: "Australia Says NATO Needs New Strategy in Afghanistan"
COMMENTARY: Afghanistan is immensely distant from what has always been known as the North Atlantic region. Yet forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are now conducting the military operations in that country. This situation came about because NATO is a United Nations subsidiary and is, once again, being employed as the UN’s military arm.
Formed in 1949 under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, the leaders of the alliance have rarely been forthcoming about it being a "regional arrangement" subject to the world body. But, when membership in the pact was being considered almost 60 years ago, Secretary of State Dean Acheson told the nation that it is “an essential measure for strengthening the United Nations.” Only 13 senators voted against membership in NATO and the 12-nation alliance was launched.
After the U.S. became a founding member in July 1949, American military personnel took up stations in Europe. From its original 12 nations, the alliance has grown to include others since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Anyone who thought that NATO was formed only to provide a deterrent against Soviet advance to the West should now know that this wasn’t its fundamental role from the beginning.
The very existence of NATO has the potential for creating hostilities. The former USSR satellite nation of Ukraine has asked to be included in NATO. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made very clear his intention to aim nuclear missiles at neighboring Ukraine if its once docile satellite joins NATO and allows the West to set up a missile defense system. Putin has made similar threats against Poland and the Czech Republic. Were there no NATO, this saber-rattling would likely not be heard.
Non-NATO member Australia has protested that its 970 troops fighting in Afghanistan are shouldering more of the burden of fighting than should be expected. Canada is threatening to pull its 2,500 troops out of the conflict. Germany has told the U.S. that it has no intention of sending additional forces to the region. The United States, ever willing to do whatever it takes to strengthen the UN, maintains the largest force by far and has suffered the greatest number of casualties.
Just last month, Hungarian native Sandor Laborc was named chairman of NATO’s intelligence committee. A veteran of six years service during the 1980s at the KGB’s training center in Moscow, Laborc is now the top NATO official assigned to deal with gathering and overseeing the alliance’s intelligence. Many in NATO now expect member nations to be less willing to share intelligence data within the alliance.
Laborc’s years in Moscow were spent at the Dzerzhinsky Academy, a school named after the founder of the bloody USSR secret police. His appointment to this strategically important NATO post could not even gain approval from the national security committee of the Hungarian Parliament. But he was nevertheless named to the rotating post by Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, a “former” communist. An unnamed diplomat from a Western nation was quoted by the New York Times as saying, “It would have taken one phone call by the U.S. ambassador to NATO to stop this appointment.” Obviously, that call was never placed.
For decades, any high-level member of the Nazi’s Gestapo has been shunned, imprisoned, or worse. A veteran of the KGB during the years of Soviet rule should be treated equally. The naming of Laborc to the NATO post actually says more about the UN than it does about NATO.
If the United States has any good reasons to be fighting in Afghanistan, it should do so under its own flag and under its own leaders. Allowing our forces to be under NATO’s overall command is a betrayal of all who wear the uniform. Our nation should never have joined NATO, and the same can be said for U.S. membership in its United Nations parent.
NATO In Afghanistan:Source: Nato's Official Website
NATO is a key component of the international community’s engagement in Afghanistan, assisting the Afghan authorities in providing security and stability, paving the way for reconstruction and effective governance.
The Alliance’s aim is to help establish the conditions in which Afghanistan can enjoy – after decades of conflict, destruction and poverty – a representative government and self-sustaining peace and security.
NATO’s role is a key part of the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year plan between the government of Afghanistan and the international community, which sets goals relating to the security, governance and economic development of the country.
NATO’s engagement is three-fold:
* through leadership of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), an international force of some 43,250 troops (including National Support Elements) that assists the Afghan authorities in extending and exercising its authority and influence across the country, creating the conditions for stabilisation and reconstruction;
* a Senior Civilian Representative, responsible for advancing the political-military aspects of the Alliance’s commitment to the country, who works closely with ISAF, liaises with the Afghan government and other international organisations, and maintains contacts with neighbouring countries.
* a substantial programme of cooperation with Afghanistan, concentrating on defence reform, defence institution-building and the military aspects of security sector reform.