Wednesday, March 31, 2004

WHY IS NATO SITTING ON ITS ASS? CONTINUED... I posed the question on Saturday and forcefully tried to remind NATO of its promises. This article on NATO's foot-dragging doesn't answer the question, but it reminds us that we should be thankful of the United States' actions in Afghanistan, despite its shortcoming.

Since December, promises made by Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey to provide helicopters were either delayed or not met amid concern over costs.

With growing impatience, the US stepped in. It will take off the rotary blades and pack the helicopters into C-160 heavy airlift carriers. But Washington did not want to foot the bill either. A US diplomat said Luxembourg would pay for the transport. The helicopters have yet to reach Kabul.

"We keep asking the alliance countries to deliver what they have promised. We are not setting unrealistic expectations. Everything we ask for is needed," said General James Jones, Nato's top military chief.

Nato had also promised to help with the registration of voters and to protect the polling booths. "That would require at least another 3,000 troops. Some hope," said a European diplomat based in Kabul. Last week Mr Karzai officially postponed the elections until September.

Diplomats now admit it will be difficult for Nato to create and command five new provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs). These small military/civilian units of between 80 to 200 personnel, first set up by the US 18 months ago, are designed to provide local security, protect aid workers and help demilitarise some of the 100,000 militia that work for warlords.
I, for one, don't think it will be hard for NATO countries to set up new PRTs. In fact, it's what the NATO countries want you to think. They're not 3rd countries--and hell, even New Zealand has their own PRT set up in Bamyan. American troops are running 10 PRTs, while Germany, United Kingdom (NATO) and New Zealand are running one each. Sadly, all of this boils down to political will. Time for NATO to lead.

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