Gates Calls Europe Anti-War Mood Danger to Peace … Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (left), who has long called European contributions to NATO inadequate, said Tuesday that public and political opposition to the military had grown so great in Europe that it was directly affecting operations in Afghanistan and impeding the alliance's broader security goals. "The demilitarization of Europe – where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it – has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st," he told NATO officers and officials in a speech at the National Defense University, the Defense Department-financed graduate school for military officers and diplomats. – New York Times
Dominant Social Theme: Prepare by supporting war.
Free-Market Analysis: This comes perilously close to the famous phrase, "eternal war for eternal peace." For 70 years, the European mantra has been "never again." The powers-that-be have even created a European super state to ensure that member countries will not come to blows with each other. But now comes American Defense Secretary Robert Gates to explain that was yesterday and tomorrow belongs to an intergalactic military industrial complex.
The questions that can be asked about Gates' statement are manifold. To begin with, how did NATO change from an understandable coalition aimed at restraining the USSR to an all-purpose military force ready to confront aggression – presumably against the West – wherever it might raise its head? One might have presumed NATO would have been disbanded once the USSR itself was disbanded. Instead, Gates and others seem to see the continuance of its mission (whatever that may be) as critical to the functioning of the free world. Here's some more from the article:
A perception of European weakness, he warned, could provide a "temptation to miscalculation and aggression" by hostile powers. The meeting was a prelude to the alliance's review this year of its basic mission plan for the first time since 1999. "Right now," Mr. Gates said, "the alliance faces very serious, long-term, systemic problems."
Mr. Gates's blunt comments came just three days after the coalition government of the Netherlands collapsed in a dispute over keeping Dutch troops in Afghanistan. It now appears almost certain that most of the 2,000 Dutch troops there will be withdrawn this year. And polls show the Afghanistan war has grown increasingly unpopular in nearly every European country.
The defense secretary, putting a sharper point to his past criticisms, outlined how NATO shortfalls were exacting a material toll in Afghanistan. The alliance's failure to finance needed helicopters and cargo aircraft, for example, were "directly impacting operations."
It is not exactly clear to us (anyway) how a perception of European weakness could provide a "temptation to miscalculation and aggression." Who or what exactly does Gates have in mind? Is it China? Japan? North Korea? The European Union comprises some 300 million citizens, some of the more powerful nation-states in the world and is allied with the United States, a global mono-superpower with enough nuclear weapons to turn the earth into a smoldering ruin a thousand times over. The chances of an attack on Europe, given this state-of-affairs, is fairly minimal in our opinion.
Yet for Gates it is obviously an issue. He is using Afghanistan as an example. But it is exactly this war in Afghanistan that indicates just how questionable this endless drive for armaments and military preparedness really is. Having a conflict-ready army highly armed with sophisticated weapons is not an inducement to peace, we would argue, but a prelude to war. Especially considering the fact that the artillery comes with an expiration date and the powerful companies, with huge lobbying budgets, manufacturing such require fresh purchase orders to pump up their revenues. And the war doesn't really matter so long as the country being attacked is small, impoverished and cannot fight back. Either way, the government's shelves get reloaded at taxpayer and human expense.
Afghanistan is a good example. The US went into Afghanistan bomb-bays gaping with special ops and Marines ready to avenge the horrible events of 9/11. The only trouble with this scenario is that Osama bin Laden was never found, nor were his many fortified caves, nor were his many rabid followers. It may even emerge some day that Bin Laden was not in Afghanistan at the time the Americans were attacking. And then there is the question of culpability. Bin Laden DENIED masterminding 9/11 in clear terms less than a week after 9/11 occurred. Nonetheless, the Americans attacked and drove out the Taliban government, installing a puppet government led by Hamid Karzai. The Americans also invaded in Iraq and installed what can only be considered a puppet government there as well.
If one is inclined to look at US actions with a certain amount skepticism, one might be forgiven if wondering if the US really had an iron-clad case for its invasions – of if it were a question of (military) means looking for an outlet. It is not yet clear, either, if the US can simply declare victory and go home. The Sunni Iraq, as we reported yesterday, are thinking of boycotting upcoming Iraq elections, hinting at dangerous instability for that country.
In the meantime, the plan for Afghanistan calls for literally building an infrastructure and Western-style regulatory government from the ground up. This is a hugely ambitious undertaking. And there is irony in this state of affairs since America itself is being roiled by citizen protests against the very kind of state superstructure that the American elite is attempting to implement in Afghanistan. Here's one last article excerpt:
More sobering, Gates said, was that just two months into the year, NATO was facing shortfalls of hundreds of millions of euros – "a natural consequence of having underinvested in collective defense for over a decade." NATO's growing problems – greatly magnified by the expansion of its mandate beyond European borders, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks – called for "serious, far- reaching and immediate reforms," Mr. Gates said. Indeed, the secretary-general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, last month turned to an unlikely source – Russia – to request helicopters for use in Afghanistan, arguing that this would help reduce the terrorist threat and drug trade on a border of the former Soviet Union.
We had to read the above paragraph twice because we didn't believe it the first time. NATO, which came into being to confront the USSR, has approached Russia for helicopters to use in Afghanistan. The irony is almost beyond words. The logic-flow is non-existent. One ends up concluding (if one had not before) that NATO is being preserved simply because the West's various military entities need an outlet for their combined nervous energy.
We do feel that all this may be coming to an end of some sort. It seems the money to support the ambitious military dreams of Gates et al. is rapidly diminishing in the West as anti-military sentiments spread. We think the tipping point may come when these sentiments take root more broadly in the US. The 20th century was a time of war. The 21st century may prove, astonishingly, to be a bit more peaceful.
We believe that there is a good possibility that the US will end up eventually scaling back its Roman-style military and intelligence operations, which currently encircle the globe like an out-of-control centurion octopus. This will occur only after continued setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq (which cannot be hidden from the American public) interact unfavorably with a poor economic climate. There would be significant ramifications, of course, not only from a geopolitical perspective but more parochially from an investment standpoint. Betting on war in the near future, Lord willing, may not be so profitable as in the past.