The more-generally-acceptable war in Afghanistan is being waged by NATO. The problem is, some of the NATO troops there–e.g., the Germans–are not allowed by their governments to risk casualties in combat. This creates all kinds of command and control problems, when whole units will not participate in what they may be needed to do. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates had some undiplomatically harsh words for our allies:
“I worry a great deal about the alliance 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.”
We had a faculty candidate on campus who gave a lecture on his specialty, international relations, who made the case that much of the pacifism and the easy-going welfare state mentality of the European Union are luxuries made possible by the American forces who, through NATO, have been protecting them, relieving them of the expensive burden of high military spending. Should we pull back, especially if the other members of the alliance are not pulling their weight, or is the current practice better than Germany going all militaristic again?