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 Schroeder said recently that NATO is outdated and needs to be revamped.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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs