Archive for the ‘European’ Category

China’s execution of alleged spy harms rights dialogue: EU

November 29, 2008

The European Union condemned Friday China’s execution of a scientist accused of spying for Taiwan, warning of damaging consequences for dialogue with Beijing on human rights.

“The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the execution of Mr Wo Weihan,” a statement said. “This execution seriously undermines the spirit of trust and mutual respect required for this EU-China dialogue on human rights.”

–AFP

Ran Chen -- the daughter of scientist Wo Weihan -- in Beijing ... 
Ran Chen — the daughter of scientist Wo Weihan — in Beijing on November 26, 2008. The European Union condemned Friday China’s execution of the scientist who was accused of spying for Taiwan, warning of damaging consequences for dialogue with Beijing on human rights.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

The EU underscored that it “comes just after the conclusion in Beijing of the EU-China human rights dialogue, in the course of which the EU reiterated its strong opposition to the death penalty and once again raised the case of Mr Wo Weihan and requested that he be pardoned.”

The 27-nation bloc also deplored the conditions under which Wo had been detained and tried and said it regretted that China had ignored numerous calls to defer the execution and commute the death sentence.

China executed the 59-year-old scientist on Friday, his daughter told AFP.

Wo was based in Austria from 1990 to 1997, and his daughter has Austrian citizenship. He was arrested in 2005 in Beijing on accusations of passing information of a military nature to Taiwan. He had said he was innocent.

Read the rest:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081128/wl_asia_afp/
chinataiwanrightsexecutioneu_081128174532

China Cancels EU Summit; Economic Turndown Worries Everyone

November 27, 2008

The head of France’s business lobby said Thursday she is “worried” about the trade implications of China’s decision to pull out of an upcoming China-European Union summit.

The EU-China summit was planned for Monday in the French city of Lyon. On the sidelines, around 150-200 Chinese business executives had been expected to meet with European counterparts at an event organized by the French employers lobby Medef.

China called off the meeting, however, in protest at French President Nicolas Sarkozy long-awaited meeting with Tibet‘s exiled Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.

Medef’s President Laurence Parisot called China’s decision “a real shame.”

“This worries me for French companies,” Parisot told the Associated Press.

“I don’t understand what motivated the Chinese authorities,” he said, noting that the U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Tibetan leader without provoking such a reaction.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang hinted that his government may be looking at economic reprisals as well.

“Since France has major interests in China, since the French leader repeatedly says that he takes China as a major strategic partner, then why is he doing this?” he asked at a news conference Thursday in Beijing.

“This is exactly where we feel confused and where the Chinese government and people express strong dissatisfaction.”

Pulling out of the summit suggests that countering criticism on Tibet is a bigger priority for China’s communist leaders than working with the EU and nations like France on solutions to the global financial crisis.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081127/ap_on_bi_
ge/eu_france_china_trade_1

Russia sees hope of missile progress with Obama

November 9, 2008

Russia hopes for constructive talks with the next U.S. administration on Washington’s planned missile defense system in Europe, Russian media quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Sunday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is seen in his Gorki residence ...
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is seen in his Gorki residence outside Moscow. Barack Obama is keeping people guessing about whether he will pursue a Bush administration plan to set up a missile shield in central Europe but analysts say Russia has shot itself in the foot with threats to deploy missiles in retaliation.(AFP/Ria-Novosti/Vladimir Rodionov)

A Russian deputy foreign minister said separately, in an interview with Interfax news agency, that Moscow would not carry out a threat to deploy tactical missiles near Poland if Washington scrapped its plans to deploy its missile system in Europe.

Washington says the missile defense shield, which would consist of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic, would help protect from missile attacks by “rogue states” such as Iran.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has supported work on a missile defense system, but says it must be “pragmatic and cost-effective” and cannot divert resources from other priorities until its effectiveness is proven.

“We have turned our attention to those positions which Barack Obama published on his site,” Russian news agencies quoted Lavrov as saying after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

“They inspire a hope that we will be able to tackle these issues on a more constructive basis.”

Lavrov and Rice were taking part in a meeting of Middle East mediators.

Lavrov said proposals Russia had so far received from the outgoing U.S. administration to ease its concerns over the U.S. missile system “fall short of the agreements reached earlier at the level of the presidents.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged last week to station Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region bordering Poland in response to the planned U.S. missile system.

Russia says it sees no prospect of Iran firing missiles at Europe and that the U.S. system is a direct threat to its national security.

The European Union this week expressed “strong concern” over Moscow’s plan to deploy the Iskander systems near Poland.

“There is a very important detail here — these plans (to deploy Iskander missiles) will be implemented only in case the U.S. missile defense system is launched,” Interfax quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko as saying.

“If the United States does not deploy it, then the very need for Russia to take these precautionary measures will be removed,” Grushko said.

He said the EU “should not have pretended they are bewildered that Russia would take relevant retaliatory steps, because the U.S. plans undermine Russia’s strategic potential, which is a basis for global security.”

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Louise Ireland at Reuters)

Russia’s Medvedev Fails To Mention Obama: Orders Missiles Deployed in Europe

November 5, 2008

President Dmitri Medvedev took advantage of the euphoria in America today to order the deployment of missiles inside Europe as a response to US plans for a missile defence shield.

Speaking within hours of Barack Obama’s election as the new US President, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad next to the border with Poland.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev makes the address to the nation ... 
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev makes the address to the nation in Moscow’s Kremlin on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed extending the presidential term to six years from the current four.(AP Photo/ Mikhail Metzel)

He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads. Mr Medvedev also cancelled earlier plans to withdraw three intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.

“An Iskander missile system will be deployed in the Kaliningrad region to neutralise if necessary the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe,” Mr Medvedev said in his first state-of-the-nation address.

By Tony Halpin
The Times (London)

Russia's "Iskander" missile system on display ... 
Russia’s “Iskander” missile system on display at a military exhibition in the Siberian town of Nizhny Tagil in 2005. President Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia will place short-range missile systems on the EU’s eastern border to counter planned US missile defence installations in Eastern Europe.(AFP/VEDOMOSTI/File/Evgeny Stetsko)

He added that Russia was also ready to deploy its navy and to install electronic jamming devices to interfere with the US shield, which involves the deployment of a radar station in the Czech Republic and 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.

His announcement prompted a burst of applause from government ministers and parliamentary deputies assembled in the Kremlin. The President failed to congratulate Mr Obama or even to mention him by name during his 85-minute state of the nation address televised live across Russia.

Instead, in a criticism directed at the US, Mr Medvedev declared: “Mechanisms must be created to block mistaken, egoistical and sometimes simply dangerous decisions of certain members of the international community.”

He accused the West of seeking to encircle Russia and blamed the US for encouraging Georgia’s “barbaric aggression” in the war over South Ossetia in August. He issued a warning that Russia would “not back down in the Caucasus”.

“The August crisis only accelerated the arrival of the crucial moment of truth. We proved, including to those who had been sponsoring the current regime in Georgia, that we are strong enough to defend our citizens and that we can indeed defend our national interests,” Mr Medvedev said.

“What we’ve had to deal with in the last few years – the construction of a global missile defence system, the encirclement of Russia by military blocs, unrestrained NATO enlargement and other ‘gifts’… The impression is we are being tested to the limit.”

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5090077.ece

Bush Offers To Host a Summit of World Leaders on Global Economy

October 18, 2008

President Bush will announce he plans to host a summit of world leaders in the near future to discuss the global response to the financial crisis, a senior administration official said Saturday.

Word of the impending announcement came at Camp David where European leaders are lobbying Bush to hold a summit by year’s end.

From Yahoo News and wire services

The summit will focus on ideas to prevent a crisis from recurring in the future and to preserve the free market system, said the Bush administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement has not yet been made.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso are trying to convince Bush that now is a good opportunity to tighten and better coordinate control of the financial markets, in response to the economic crisis that has shaken markets around the globe.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks during a press ... 
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy met with US President George W. Bush at Camp David on Saturday over how and when to overhaul global economic rules to avert future meltdowns.(AFP/File/Dominique Faget)

The president has backed the steps European nations have taken to stem the economic crisis, and is in favor of a meeting in the near future of the Group of Eight industrialized powers and other emerging economies like China and India. The White House says Bush, who has just three months left in office, wants to listen to a broad range of ideas, not just from Europe, but from Asia and developing countries.

But the U.S. hasn’t signed on to the more ambitious, broad-stroke revisions that some European leaders like Sarkozy have in mind for the world financial system.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081018/
ap_on_bi_ge/meltdown_bush

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President Bush said Saturday he will host an international summit in response to the global financial crisis, but said that any reform of financial systems must not chip away at the foundations of democratic capitalism and free enterprise.

US President George W. Bush (L) listens to remarks by French ...
US President George W. Bush (L) listens to remarks by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at Camp David, Maryland. Bush offered to host a summit on the global financial crisis and met Saturday with Sarkozy, who was expected to press the US leader for a bold relaunching of the international financial system.(AFP/Mike Theiler)

Bush, meeting at the Camp David presidential retreat with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, did not set a date or place for the meeting. Sarkozy, however, suggested it be held before the end of November in New York.

Bush said the summit attendees must be open to ideas from around the world, but he said nations should avoid protectionism.

“As we make the regulatory institutional changes necessary to avoid a repeat of this crisis, it is essential that we preserve the foundations of democratic capitalism — commitment to free markets, free enterprise and free trade,” Bush said, standing with the two European leaders at a helipad on a crisp fall afternoon.

“Together we will work to strengthen and modernize our nations’ financial systems so we can help ensure that this crisis doesn’t….

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/2008101
8/ap_on_go_pr_wh/meltdown_
bush;_ylt=ApY4pOKvb37a__fm_bcMsOOs0NUE

Lavrov: Russia Still Against NATO Expansion, Missile Defense

April 1, 2008

Voice of America
Russia’s foreign minister again has expressed opposition to NATO expansion and U.S. plans for a missile defense system in central Europe.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to reporters in Moscow Thursday ahead of next month’s visit to Russia by U.S. President George Bush.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addresses the CIS (Commonwealth ...
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addresses the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Foreign Ministers meeting in Moscow, Friday, March 28, 2008. Lavrov stressed that efforts by Georgia’s pro-Western government to join NATO have added tension and attempts to resolve the Georgian-Abkhaz and the Georgian-South Ossetian conflicts through Georgian entry to NATO are dangerous and counterproductive.(AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

Lavrov said his country views proposals for NATO expansion as being out of touch with reality. He said the entire world faces common threats which must be handled in common.

Lavrov also stressed his country’s view that the best way to resolve disagreements over the planned U.S. missile defense system is for Washington to abandon it.

The United States has said Russia has nothing to fear from NATO expansion or the missile defense system, which it says is aimed at so-called rogue states such as Iran.

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet April 6 in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi. 

Leaders of the 26 NATO countries are expected to invite Albania, Croatia and possibly Macedonia into the alliance at next week’s summit in Bucharest. They will also consider initiating the membership process for Ukraine and Georgia.
 
The United States wants to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and control-radar in the Czech Republic.

Russia has strongly opposed the plan as a threat to its security. It has said the system could set off a new arms race.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

Coal Can’t Fill World’s Burning Appetite

March 20, 2008

By Steven Mufson and Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, March 20, 2008; Page A01

Long considered an abundant, reliable and relatively cheap source of energy, coal is suddenly in short supply and high demand worldwide.

A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site at ...
A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site at Daming Coal Mine in Diaobingshan, Liaoning province February 24, 2008. China, the world’s top steel producer, is struggling with a shortage of coking coal after a power crisis in the country prompted Beijing to urge its mines to focus their efforts on raising thermal coal supplies.
REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OUT
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An untimely confluence of bad weather, flawed energy policies, low stockpiles and voracious growth in Asia‘s appetite has driven international spot prices of coal up by 50 percent or more in the past five months, surpassing the escalation in oil prices.The signs of a coal crisis have been showing up from mine mouths to factory gates and living rooms: As many as 45 ships were stacked up in Australian ports waiting for coal deliveries slowed by torrential rains. China and Vietnam, which have thrived by sending goods abroad, abruptly banned coal exports, while India‘s import demands are up. Factory hours have been shortened in parts of China, and blackouts have rippled across South Africa and Indonesia‘s most populous island, Java.

A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site in ...
A labourer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site in Changzhi, Shanxi province.  China has the world’s deadliest mines, where explosions, cave-ins and floods killed nearly 3,800 people last year. Coal accounts for about 70 percent of electricity production for the booming economy. But efforts to improve safety have been frustrated by lax enforcement, weak safety regimes and corruption among local officials and mine owners chasing profits.
REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA) CHINA OU

Meanwhile mining companies are enjoying a windfall. Freight cars in Appalachia are brimming with coal for export, and old coal mines in Japan have been reopened or expanded. European and Japanese coal buyers, worried about future supplies, have begun locking in long-term contracts at high prices, and world steel and concrete prices have risen already, fueling inflation.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/19/AR2008031903859.html?hpid=topnews

Defense Trade Currents

March 16, 2008

By William Hawkins
The Washington Times
March 16, 2008

The legacy of the draconian cuts in military force levels and procurement during the 1990s continues to cast a pall over U.S. national security planning. That American soldiers and Marines have been overstretched by repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan is well-known, and steps are being taken to expand their strength.
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It is not just the combat forces, however, but the defense industry upon which they depend for arms and equipment, that also needs to be reconstituted.
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The “procurement holiday” of the Clinton administration cost the defense industrial base a million jobs. The Pentagon promoted a consolidation of firms and elimination of “excess” capacity. This reform was supposed to improve efficiency but it also reduced domestic competition. Now, to stimulate competition, or even just access sufficient capacity, foreign firms are invited to supply U.S. forces with hardware.
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The most recent example is the awarding of a $35 billion U.S. Air Force contract for 179 new KC-45A aerial refueling tankers based on the Airbus A330 airliner built by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADS). Boeing has built every previous USAF tanker and has won contracts for its KC-767 tankers from Japan and Italy. But it lost the military competition at home to the foreign firm that is also its main global rival in the commercial airliner sector.
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The USAF contract comes at a critical time for EADS. Its A380 “superjumbo” airline project is well behind schedule, and there have been problems in the Airbus A350 midsized airliner project (crucial to its future battles with Boeing), and in its A400M military airlifter.
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EADS is Europe’s largest defense contractor yet is much smaller than Boeing because Europe went on an even deeper disarmament slide after the Cold War and has done little to reverse course.
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The once-mighty NATO armies deployed to stop a Soviet blitzkrieg across Germany have melted away to where they can hardly maintain a few brigades in Afghanistan to fight lightly armed insurgents. European firms are desperate for American taxpayers to bail them out with military contracts. .
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The question is: Can the United States depend on a steady supply of production, including decades of space parts and upgrades, from foreign industries in decline — and where military investment and research are funded at only a fraction of what America devotes to defense?

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https://johnibii.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Political Correctness Gone Mad

March 7, 2008

By James Zumwalt
March 6, 2008

Democracy today suffers from political correctness gone mad. Whether motivated by innocence or ignorance, idealists push for unbridled tolerance. They do so without a reality check, failing to see how it can then be manipulated against us by those seeking to do us harm.

Last month, for example, the Archbishop of Canterbury called for theapplication of Islamic law, in some instances, for England’s growing Muslim population. Putting aside the nightmarish conflict of laws issues this would create, such a call demonstrates a total lack of appreciation for a basic, irresolvable difference between Islamic and Western law — one making it impossible for both to co-exist within the borders of the same democratic state.

Western law, predicated upon the U.N.’s 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, recognizes such rights as being universal to all mankind; Islamic law, predicated upon the 1990 Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, recognizes only those human rights sanctioned by Shariah — which means women and non-believers have no such rights.

The good Archbishop may well possess the heart of a saint, but he possesses the logic of one so focused on political correctness as to blind him to the damage Shariah would do in destroying the very multiculturalism he seeks to promote.

Under Shariah, as interpreted by extremists, it is either the Islamic way or the highway — the highway of death.

Granting Shariah a foothold in England would begin a push for fewer and fewer rights for non-believers — eventually to include their right to life. It would mark the beginning of the end for organized, civilized societies, as today’s fast growing Islamic populations in Europe continue to outpace native populations in growth — the former eventually destined to become a majority. When that happens, we might well see the replacement of all Western laws with Shariah. The Archbishop’s call for Shariah to be recognized in England came as two Muslim-dominated societies very recently demonstrated their inability to tolerate any religion but Islam.

In January, Malyasian Customs officials confiscated 32 Bibles from a Christian woman arriving at Kuala Lumpur Airport. While just last week, it was reported, Christian missionaries in Jordan are actively being denied visas or deported for proselytizing Christianity — an illegal activity under Islamic law. Thus, the tolerance towards Islam the Archbishop seeks to promote bygranting Shariah a foothold into Europe is not being reciprocated in Muslim-majority countries — even where Islamic extremists are not in control.

If Muslim-majority countries – not controlled by extremists – are showing such intolerance now towards the introduction of other religions, one can only imagine the impact awaiting Western laws and values once Muslim populations gain majority control in European states.

Just as the Archbishop appears blinded to the realistic impact of his call for the introduction of Shariah, Hollywood too promotes its own idealistic and irresponsible version of political correctness – glossing over the reality of the enemy’s brutality.

A newspaper article about Alex Gibney’s Oscar-nominated documentary, “Taxi tothe Dark Side,” describes the film as investigating “some of the mostegregious abuses associated with the so-called ‘war on terror.’” It allegedly tells the story of “an Afghan taxi driver who was detained by the United States, then tortured to death.”

The stories of al-Qaeda’s brutality are endless; yet filmmakers fail to tell these stories, choosing instead to bash America and her warriors in their fight against evil. In doing so, the Muslim anger generated by such anti-American films is then directed against our servicemen and women fighting to set these same Muslims free of the evil-doers. We are at war with an enemy lacking limits on his barbarity.

It is this story — one of al-Qaeda’s abject brutality relative to the occasional harsh treatment of terror suspects by the U.S. — that needs to be told.

Not one film has been produced to tell the story of al-Qaeda’s use of mentally disturbed women and children as unwary suicide bombers. Not one has been produced to tell the story about al-Qaeda’s practice of “baking” children of parents who, having resisted joining the terrorist group, are then served their dead child for lunch. A “relative lens” by Hollywood would compare the treatment of U.S.-held prisoners to those held by al-Qaeda.

At Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for example, al-Qaeda suspects held in U.S. custody have gained weight — an average of 20 pounds and one prisoner more than 100. Such weight gains are unheard of during wartime captivity.

Meanwhile, not a single American prisoner captured by al-Qaeda remains alive to tell us about their treatment.

U.S. servicemen have been tortured, decapitated, mutilated and their bodies rigged with explosives to kill those attempting to recover their remains.

Our system is far from perfect. But Hollywood needs to start putting a“relative” lens on its cameras and shining its lights into the dark recesses of al-Qaeda’s brutality.

A society exercising political correctness – not tempered by reason – ultimately will lose all it seeks to gain.
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James Zumwalt is a former senior U.S. military officer who operates his own consulting firm.

Peace and Freedom sincerely thanks the author for this and all his service.

NATO’s Superbowl Loss?

March 5, 2008

by James Zumwalt
Human Events
March 5, 2008

The 2007-2008 NFL season witnessed the march of one of the greatest teams in professional football history fall 35 seconds short of perfection. Despite its loss in Superbowl XLII, the New England Patriots demonstrated tremendous success in fielding a team each week with single unity of purpose — to win.

Each team member had equal responsibility to achieve this goal, knowing the rest of the team relied upon him to execute his assignment with maximum intensity and effort.

Imagine, however, if some team members, at the outset of the season, placed limitations on what they were willing to do on the field? What, for example, would have been the result had a defender informed the coach he would only defend against the pass for 20 yards out but not beyond that? Or, worse, if a fully capable player, fearing injury, opted to sit on the bench the entire season, unwilling to share the risks, leaving his fellow teammates to take hits for him.

No coach would ever field such a team, knowing that doing so would spell disaster.

Ironically, on a much more important field — a battlefield in the war on terror — this is exactly what is happening.

In 2003, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai asked NATO to help stabilize his country and provide security against the threat of the Taliban insurgency. Under a UN mandate, NATO took action, becoming the first ground mission in the six decade history of the alliance. French and German forces were sent to the north of Afghanistan; Italian and Spanish forces west; and US, British, Dutch and Canadian troops south — where most of the fighting takes place.

NATO’s mission in Afghanistan was an enormous evolution for the alliance. It represented the first time the Alliance was taking action against a threat outside the European theater.

This was an important step because the member nations, recognizing that the threats to their mutual security posed by terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction were global, necessitating more than purely local action.

The future of NATO as a credible force, with single-minded unity of purpose, turned on its performance in Afghanistan.

And it has failed.

Despite the strategic importance of NATO’s success in Afghanistan, it quickly became apparent not all team members came to win. Promised manpower levels were not provided. Some team members placed operational restrictions on their forces. They were not allowed to operate at night.

Others were barred from operating in those areas where the threat was greatest and, thus, help needed the most. Some even put limitations on the distance forces could patrol outside their bases. It was clear not all team members had the same unity of purpose in mind, content to leave other team members to take the hits for them.

Instead of fielding the 18-1 Patriots, NATO fielded the 1-15 Miami Dolphins. President Bush and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been pressing our NATO allies to do more in this very important fight.

Trying to at least get those nations imposing limitations on the use of their forces, Gates has pointed out, “Brothers in arms achieve victory only when all march in step toward the sound of the guns.” He repeatedly encouraged NATO team members to make their restrictions as benign as possible.

But their continued failure to do so is making the military commander’s mission in Afghanistan a nightmare as leaders need constantly consider what assets can be used at what times and in what locations. Missions are impeded as commanders fail to have unlimited access to all resources in-country. This is no way to fight a war you intend to win.

Leaving a disproportionate share of the risk and responsibility for fighting the Taliban and stabilizing Afghanistan to only a few members of the NATO team is a recipe for disaster. It undermines the team concept of all for one and one for all. It undermines support for the mission by a public who senses less than a full commitment to maximizing the application of military force. Why show up for the game if you’re not going to give your all towards achieving victory? Such a lack of risk balance has prompted Canada, which has suffered the
highest casualty rate of any country, to threaten a withdrawal of its forces next year if other member states fail to contribute more to combat operations.

President Bush has made clear, “Afghanistan is NATO’s most important military operation. By standing together…we will protect our people, defend our freedom and send a clear message to the extremists — the forces of freedom and decency will prevail.”

Afghanistan is NATO’s Superbowl. But while NATO leaders pledge to stay the course there, they are doing little to demonstrate a winning commitment. It was recently revealed that Prince Henry — third in line to the British throne — secretly spent more than two months as a combat soldier in Afghanistan before his presence was revealed by the media.

The bad news is the media placed greater value on reporting this story than on limiting risk to human life; the good news is Henry’s front line deployment demonstrated the Brits’ unity of purpose and commitment to the principle all team members are equal and should share equal risks. If only we could get all our NATO team members to accept this standard.

Short of that, NATO’s quest to win its Superbowl may well go the way of that of the New England Patriots.

James Zumwalt is a retired Marine who served in the Vietnam and Gulf wars. He has written opinion pieces on foreign policy, defense and security issues for dozens of newspapers. He is president of his own security consulting company.