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 Schroeder said recently that NATO is outdated and needs to be revamped.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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs