The Pentagon chief Robert Gates flew into a passion at a recent Congress session – he decided to say everything he wanted about the NATO peacemaking mission in Afghanistan. It turned out that the defense secretary does not think much of U.S. allies, since the Old World does not seem to be willing in helping America in its “righteous deed” of bringing peace to Afghanistan. However, no matter how angry Gates is, this problem is not easy – there is real shortage of the USA allies in the modern world.
Robert Gates also stated in the House of Representatives that this year was the most difficult since 2001 when the USA started the military intervention in Afghanistan. European leaders decided to help the Afghan government in establishing peace in the country, although their initiatives do not bring much success. For instance, Afghan army and police training programs are on the decline. There is a strong lack of coaches (3,500 specialists are wanted). Moreover, Gates stated that there was no time and need for reconstruction under current severe circumstances in Afghanistan. Mr. Gates believes that one should launch a large-scale campaign against local guerrillas instead.
It is quite clear that European leaders are not going to send additional troops and helicopters to the war-torn country. On the whole the perspective of the Afghan operation look rather gloomy from the point of view of Robert Gates. Struggle against rebels can never be easy: in it in its essence a very hard war to wage. Nowadays practically no European country is eager to wage war and increase military presence in Afghanistan.
The reduction of the number of U.S. allies in Iraq is especially conspicuous. Thirty-two countries and over 25,000 servicemen were included in the structure of occupation troops in Iraq in 2004. The number of those countries has been cut to 26 these days with 12,000-strong contingent.
It is quite understandable that the USA has never counted on these troops from the military point of view: the U.S. contingent has increase over ten times. The U.S. administration is more interested in international legitimacy. Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq is the first priority for the USA (because of its oil). But it would be baneful from the political point of view to make the Iraqi war an exclusively U.S. operation with the main purpose to topple Saddam Hussein with a view to establish the new government.
The military presence has been declining steadily. Some army bases number only one serviceman who does not participate in combatant operations. It is not clear whether it is the USA that does not count on its allies, or the allies just prefer to hide behind the backs of U.S. soldiers. Even if the invasion of Iraq was done to control its oil riches, Afghanistan remains the real hotbed of terrorism, extremism and drugs. Could it all happen without the intervention of the international community? From this point of view the U.S. foreign policy seems to be in an advantageous position, whereas Europe would prefer to confine themselves to endless discussions.
Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina