Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Transatlantic Gulf of Soft and Hardware

In an article in the LA Times "Gates faults NATO force in southern Afghanistan" the US Defense Secretary said he believes NATO forces currently deployed in the region do not know how to combat a guerrilla insurgency, a deficiency that could be contributing to the rising violence in the fight against the Taliban.

In the interview, Gates compared the troubled experience of the NATO forces in the south - primarily troops from the closest US allies, Britain and Canada, as well as the Netherlands - with progress made by American troops in the eastern part of Afghanistan. He traced the failing in part to a Cold War orientation.

Since Robert Kagan's book "Of Paradise and Power" we better understand the psychological mechanism that says that if you have a hammer, you happen see a whole lot of nails, or the other way about, if you don't have a hammer you fail to observe all the loose nails lying around.

The fragmented Dutch political constellation demands that military missions carry the broadest possible parliamentary support. In order to get the Leftist parties aboard, the missions' aims often overemphasize peace related activities. Development efforts, civil engineering, and nation building projects render highly trained military personnel a sort of hybrids between construction handies, development workers and boy scouts, .

Another problem is evidently, in order to have peace, the war first needs to be won, which - heaven forbid - might actually involve killing terrorists! Those that do fully engage in winning the war, are viewed upon as bloodthirsty cowboys. This attitude constitutes 'supporting the troops'.

We also know of the heavy European reliance on post Cold War peace dividend. In fact, most European countries in the thralls of postmodernism imagine themselves to have passed beyond history altogether. They live under the illusion that war is a feature of pre-history, requiring some crude state of mind they have risen beyond.

Such twisted ideas resulting from the abdication of moral choices are not just delusional and dangerous, they are inviting aggression from states that are very much still a part of the Hobbesian world operating fully in the good old-fashioned tradition of power play. Some have been developing great plans for themselves and for the world.

Elsevier is reporting that - far from examining if the critique is possibly warranted - the Dutch Government is having nothing of it. Even the Atlanticist spokesman of the opposition Liberal party demands an explanation. The Minister responsible meanwhile has invited the American Ambassador in for a chat.

He's expressed hope for some misunderstanding, emphasizing the military's professionalism and experience. "The Netherlands after all, has participated in over fifty peace missions!" That last expression - I'm afraid - explains it all ...

- Related dossier: "OSINT From the Afghan Front" -
- Related website: Dutch/Australian NATO Task Force Uruzgan, Afghanistan (ISAF III) (MilBlog)


- Reuters: "Gates: Afghan shortfalls remain, no more U.S. troops"
- LA Times: "Netherlands summons U.S. official to discuss Gates' NATO criticism"

- Filed on Articles in "The Finer Points of Warfare", cat. Defence, The Military -


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