News

NATO Agrees to Train Iraqis, But Split About its Future

The NATO alliance says that all of its 26 members are committed to help a NATO training program for senior Iraqi officers, a move that is designed to put an end to the divisions that wracked the alliance over the Iraq War.  Some NATO leaders are questioning whether the alliance is the right place to discuss trans-Atlantic differences.

The question confronting the NATO summit was whether the United States and its European allies are getting what they want from NATO.

Washington has been frustrated by some of its allies' refusal to sign on to a NATO presence in Iraq.  The alliance has struggled to get minor commitments from some members to take part in a training mission for Iraqi staff officers

France, Germany and other opponents of the war still refuse to send military personnel to Iraq to take part in the mission.  So NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer recently came up with a face-saving formula whereby individual allies can train Iraqis in Iraq, outside Iraq or contribute funding to the mission.  That formula has now been accepted by all of the allies.

But, as analyst Mark Joyce at London's Royal United Services Institute points out, it is more symbolic than substantial, because NATO is still trying to come up with the troops and the money it needs to carry out the mission.

"The position that NATO took was that they would perform the minimum possible role in Iraq for which they could get some form of political consensus within the alliance,” he explained.  “Now, what this has amounted to in practice has been very little."

If the United States has been disappointed that its allies have not done more in Iraq, some Europeans are frustrated that NATO's agenda is always set by its biggest member and contributor, the United States.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, backed by comments from French President Jacques Chirac, suggest security talks between the United States and the European Union should replace NATO as the main forum for trans-Atlantic strategic dialogue.

Mr. Schroeder said recently that NATO is outdated and needs to be revamped.  He argued that it is no longer the primary venue where the United States and Europe discuss and coordinate strategies over such pressing trans-Atlantic issues as Iran's nuclear program and the EU decision to end its arms embargo on China, a move opposed by the United States.

The idea has received a cool reception from the United States and from Mr. De Hoop Scheffer, who has called for broadening NATO's role.

But European analysts like Keith Didcock, at the Foreign Policy Center, a London think-tank, says Mr. Schroeder's suggestion should not be dismissed out of hand because NATO is primarily a military alliance whereas the European Union has economic and diplomatic influence.

"In seeking to realign and reinvigorate the trans-Atlantic relationship, one should not simply look at NATO,” he said.  “I do not think that NATO should be scrapped, and I do not think that that is what Europe is really trying to argue for.  But I think that there is a case now for saying that the EU-U.S. alliance, when it comes to military and defense issues, has to move beyond simply looking at NATO and simply using NATO as the vehicle."

Mr. Didcock and other analysts say that the United States will resist any move away from NATO as the centerpiece of the trans-Atlantic alliance.  But they also say that Mr. Bush's visit to the EU headquarters reflects an acknowledgment on Washington's part that the European Union is forging a continent-wide identity and is increasingly a power to be reckoned with.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs