Entries Tagged as 'NATO'

Can NATO Adapt to Cyber Warfare?

November 29th, 2011 at 2:50 pm 7 Comments

What is the likelihood that NATO would invoke Article Five–NATO’s collective defense clause–in response to a cyber attack? The possibility first entered media discourse back in October 2010 when the German Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on an internal memo in which NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen discussed the use of Article Five in the case of an cyber attack.

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to ask different people within the NATO structure on the matter.

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Don’t Expect Democracy in Libya

August 25th, 2011 at 12:12 pm 19 Comments

From the widespread reaction, you’d think the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya was a World War II-type victory.

In fact it took six months of U.S., Canadian, British, French and NATO air strikes–most of the target practice with no return fire–before the “rebels”  broke through to Tripoli.

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Does Huntsman Face an Uphill Battle?

David Frum June 15th, 2011 at 6:58 pm 35 Comments

Jon Huntsman strategist Jon Weaver, speaking to Esquire magazine on the core GOP problem:

“There’s a simple reason our party is nowhere near being a national governing party …. No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.”

Libya Air War Has Lasted Longer Than Kosovo Campaign

June 14th, 2011 at 3:32 pm 5 Comments

Andrew Gilligan’s account of the floundering campaign against Qaddafi in the UK Spectator.

For all the ritual incantations about ‘intensified’ attacks and ‘heaviest bombing yet’, the bombing is and always has been relatively light. Across the whole operation, the number of Nato strike sorties — only a proportion of which actually result in airstrikes — has averaged 57 a day, less than half the number in the alliance’s very similar mission in Kosovo, and a mere fraction of what the US and Britain did in Iraq.

The number of strike sorties in the seven days to last Tuesday [ie May 31] was 366, the second lowest in any week since Nato took control of the operation, bringing the daily average down to 52. The claim of intensification is not a total lie — the attacks are becoming more focused — but nor is it true for the whole country. Nato’s military commander in Libya, Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, admitted last week that for all the alliance’s work, ‘there remain a significant amount of forces’ available to the regime.

By the way: the Libya campaign has now lasted longer than the air war in Kosovo.

Republicans Go Wobbly on Libya

June 6th, 2011 at 11:07 am 6 Comments

Donald Rumsfeld famously said that a nation goes to war with the army it has, medical and not necessarily the army it wishes it had. Rumsfeld caught a lot of flak for that statement and rightly so.

When he made that statement, after all, Rumsfeld had been Secretary of Defense for years. And so, if the U.S. Army was not all that he wanted it to be, it was fair to ask: Why not — and what, if anything, had Rumsfeld himself done to remedy the situation?

Still, despite his lack of tact and seeming refusal to accept responsibility, Rumsfeld was essentially correct: Whatever their shortcomings, the U.S. Army specifically, and the U.S. military more generally, protect our nation. And so, if they’re not everything that we’d like them to be with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, well, that’s too damn bad. Wars never go according to script; there are always surprises and disappointments; and yes, people get killed.

I’m reminded of all this by Friday’s vote on the Kucinich resolution, which would have required a precipitous end to U.S. military intervention in Libya. Eighty-seven House Republicans voted with extreme anti-war leftist Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio). That’s a lot of Republicans — well over a third of the caucus, in fact.

Many congressional Republicans seem to have voted with Kucinich in order to protest Obama’s dismal lack of leadership re Libya. The president, after all, has said virtually nothing about U.S. and NATO war aims and objectives. He has been “leading from behind,” and not very well or effectively at that.

I share this dismay and concern and wish that Obama were more assertive and communicative as commander in chief: Because especially in the information age, words really do matter; they are an integral part of presidential leadership. Yet Obama seems at a loss for words when it matters most.

Still, we have but one commander in chief, and his name is Barack Obama. Indeed, he is the one that we go to war with. And so, congressional Republicans should be doing everything that they can to buck him up. After all, the need for an assertive and engaged U.S. foreign policy doesn’t end with advent of the campaign season, but rather continues to press forward unabated.

In 2013, a Republican president might well want and need Democratic congressional support for a U.S. military operation or intervention. But what incentive will congressional Democrats have to support a Republican president if they know that their GOP counterparts failed to do the same when their man was in the White House?

John Guardiano blogs at www.ResoluteCon.Com, and you can follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano.

Bad News from Afghanistan

David Frum May 17th, 2011 at 11:31 am 13 Comments

This is not good news.

Despite battlefield gains against insurgents in southern Afghanistan, the United States is failing to win over Afghans in the heartland of the Taliban, a new study shows.

Almost 90 percent of men polled in contested districts in southern Afghanistan believe foreign military operations are bad for them, according to research by the International Council on Security and Development, or ICOS.

Over half the people who took part in the study in southern Afghanistan, where military commanders say President Barack Obama’s decision to send an additional 30,000 troops has helped push insurgents out of key areas, said their opinion of foreign troops was more negative than it was a year ago.

The conclusions of the study, conducted in April among some 1,400 fighting-age men in over a dozen areas, raise troubling questions as General David Petraeus, the U.S. and NATO commander, prepares to make recommendations to Obama about how quickly the United States should bring home troops and move toward ending a long, costly and unpopular war.

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Obama’s Real Libya Goal: Regime Change

March 29th, 2011 at 12:21 pm 25 Comments

It was a good speech, clinic but it told us nothing that we don’t know.

President Barack Obama’s intent was to reassure the nation (and, advice I guess, the world) that the U.S. wasn’t at “war” with Libya, but was merely anxious to save Libyan lives from a homicidal Muammar Qaddafi.

That sounds good, but is it true?

Despite fancy rhetoric, the reality is that Obama (and America’s allies and some of her enemies) want Qaddafi gone. Period. Regime change is the goal, with Qaddafi in exile in some unlovely country or, preferably, dead.

No leader is saying that outright, but that’s the hope.

Obama saying that “some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries” but not America has a hypocritical ring, if not a false one.

“As president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action,” said Obama, as if this was ingrained policy.

Maybe in the case of Libya, but certainly not elsewhere.

The truth is that had not the Libyan people risen as one, and rebelled against Qaddafi, Obama and the rest of the world would still be dealing cordially with him, and turning a blind eye to his repressive acts.

The same goes for America’s policy towards Egypt. It was only when the anti-Hosni Mubarak elements were winning, that America put pressure on him to bail out. Until then he was a friend and ally.

Double-dealing is legitimate in international politics and diplomacy. The world accepts winners, even if it may not like them as individuals. What it will not tolerate is losers, and it discards them.

The trouble with Qaddafi is perhaps his Bedouin background. He’s not going quietly – at least not yet. Italy is said to be negotiating a way for him to flee to a country that doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, which is Qaddafi’s destination if he were to surrender or be captured.

No one wants that. Better that he be torn apart by Libyan mobs, or strung up on a lamppost as has been the fate of many failed tyrants.

On the positive side, the Libyan campaign is now internationally led by NATO, with Canadian Air Force Lt.Gen. Charlie Bouchard in command. He is a former deputy commander of NORAD.

Gen. Bouchard’s insistence that NATO forces are not taking sides in the Libyan civil war and that “our goal is to protect and help civilians and population centers under the threat of attack,” is a bit ingenuous.

Tell that to the tank crews demolished by NATO aircraft, and the exuberance of the rebels on the move towards Tripoli, who were in retreat until the “air attacks for peace” routed Qaddafi forces.

Of course we have picked sides, although Obama seems eager to distance America from what the future holds. Libya’s future hinges on what Libyans do when Qaddafi is eventually bounced.

To quote Yogi Berra, “making predictions is hard, especially when it’s about the future.” That holds with Libya and the whole Arab world which is now on the brink of rebellions, if not revolutions.

As Obama puts it, there are “democratic impulses across the Middle East.”

One hopes Obama is right, but history indicates that relatively few “revolutions” end up as democracies.

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The White House’s Clumsy Timing

David Frum September 17th, 2009 at 11:49 am 44 Comments

Sept. 17, buy viagra 2009, sildenafil is the day that the Obama administration yielded to Russian pressure and canceled the proposed missile defense system based in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Today also happens to be the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939, when Russia gulped down its share of the territories assigned by the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

Everyone in Poland remembers that anniversary. Apparently the Obama White House does not.

Still Waiting for Obama’s Afghan Strategy

September 2nd, 2009 at 1:52 pm 2 Comments

The “war” in Afghanistan is getting more lethal.

An increasing number are saying it can’t be won and we should not only get out, but we should never have committed troops in the first place.

It was only a couple of years ago that this was the predominant view of Americans about Iraq, Even diehard Republican supporters of George W. Bush were urging that he dump Iraq (as President Richard Nixon dumped Vietnam –“peace with honor”) as a lost cause.

That was before General David Petraeus persuaded Bush to launch the “surge” which, as we now know, was successful. Despite incidents, Iraq today is not the epitome of instability and anarchy it once was.

As for Afghanistan, it is Obama’s war. As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs acknowledged: “You can’t under-resource the most important part of our war on terror… for five or six or seven years… and hope to snap your fingers and have that turn around in just a few months.”

In the past six months, what Obama once called a “good war” in Afghanistan, has gotten worse. Bush cannot be blamed, because it wasn’t this bad when he was immersed in Iraq.

Canada is withdrawing from a combat role by 2011, primarily because we have to. The small size of our army demands it; manpower and our equipment are exhausted. Repeated tours of duty by our soldiers is unfair and unreasonable – senior NCOs and junior officers leaving the army is a growing concern.

For the army, the government’s shift in emphasis has to be disturbing. It’s almost as if Prime Minister Stephen Harper got elected by latching on to the army as a popularity cause with Canadian voters.

That has changed ever since Rick Hillier left as Chief of Defence Staff, replaced by Walter Natynczuk who makes no waves and doesn’t say boo in public. Hillier was always sounding off and had opinions that resonated within both the country and the military.

So it would seem that politically Canada is drifting back to the 1990s and beyond, where the military is seen as something to downplay. Noble sentiments and promises are mostly rhetoric, and it’s a fair bet that mechanized equipment that is Afghanistan now, will likely stay there. Or won’t be replaced when our troops are mostly back home.

As for Afghanistan, critics who deplore the warlords and endemic corruption miss the point. These have always existed in Afghanistan – a country of varying tribes and clans, where warlords are like the feudal lords that once ruled Europe.

Our concern for Afghanistan should be the elimination of the Taliban, who are not al-Qaeda and pose no threat to Toronto’s CN tower, stock exchange building, or of a future terrorist attack. The Taliban are a threat to ordinary Afghans, whom our troops are trying to protect. It is not NATO’s, America’s or Canada’s role to introduce democracy as a way of life. Fine if it happens, but in the meantime help Afghanistan with an infrastructure (military and police) that can combat and withstand Taliban extremism.

Warlords have always thrived in Afghanistan, and it’s unrealistic to suppose this can be changed by outside intervention, and not from within the country.

Afghanistan is now America’s problem. Canada’s problem will be maintaining our military’s capabilities after Afghanistan – something our political leaders seem to have lost interest in doing.