Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gates, The North Atlantic Treaty, and the Afghanistan War

Robert Gates has been on a steady PR tour to pressure NATO allies to send more military combat troops to Afghanistan the past couple of months.

This has been his rallying cry:

Mr. Gates said NATO could not afford "the luxury" of letting some nations conduct less dangerous missions while others did more fighting and dying...

While pushing that guilt trip, Gates seems to have forgotten what the North Atlantic Treaty actually says:

The Parties of NATO agreed that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence will assist the Party or Parties being attacked, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

We're already quite aware of the disdain the US government has for other countries' expressions of their own sovereignty and that is more than obvious in the message Gates, Rice, and others have been pitching in order to shift responsibility from US mistakes.

As Gates confesses:

Mr. Gates said the Sept. 11 attacks were especially poignant as the United States had been heavily involved in Afghanistan in the 1980s only to turn its back on the country after Soviet troops withdrew and it become a safe haven for al-Qaeda.

He described the decision to abandon Afghanistan as "a grievous error, for which I was at least partly responsible".

Mr. Gates was a senior official in the CIA when it helped mujahideen guerrillas fight the Soviets and later served as U.S. deputy national security adviser and then CIA director.

So, while Gates is on his personal redemption tour trying to force others to clean up his mess and to take responsibility for what was "a grievous error" made by himself and successive administrations of the United States government, why should other countries be willing to ease his conscience? Why should we be his personal saviour?

We have a right to decide what our participation will consist of, Mr Gates, and the fact that your government has no use for international treaties is not our problem. Contrary to what you may believe, all of the NATO allies in Afghanistan are living up to their obligations - not to you and your neocons who orchestrated this disaster, but to the North Atlantic Treaty which they signed on to.

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