Issue Research: Election 2008 | Globalisation | National Security

Condoleezza Rice Trip to Afghanistan Raises Questions

Warren Mass
John Birch Society
February 7, 2008

"I do think the [NATO] alliance is facing a test here," Secretary Rice said from London. "Populations have to understand that this is not just a peacekeeping fight."

Apparently, Afghanistan is where the action is these days. Though the NATO force there totals about 40,000 troops, the U.S. government wants to devote more troop strength to Afghanistan and has been pressuring our NATO allies to follow suit. General Dan K. McNeill, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the military mission there was "under-resourced."

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates recently signed an order to deploy 3,200 more Marines in Afghanistan, and also sent a letter to the German Defense Minister, Franz Josef Jung, in which he requested that Germany send soldiers and helicopters to southern Afghanistan, the area of heaviest current fighting. The Germans have rejected that request, offering only to replace a Norwegian contingent of 250 troops exiting from northern Afghanistan.

Secretary Rice's mission on this trip seems to be sharing her primary role with her counterparts in other NATO governments. That role, which she inherited from quite a few of her predecessor secretaries of state (who, like her, were members of the Council on Foreign Relations) is to influence foreign policy to advance an internationalist agenda that downplays national self-interest in favor of building regional blocs, some military, some trade. (NAFTA is an example of a trade bloc while NATO is a military bloc.)

Most of us remember NATO primarily as a vehicle established to defend Europe from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, prompting the unanswered question: So why does NATO still exist? NATO was formed as a "Chapter VIII regional arrangement" of the United Nations. Therefore, the war in Afghanistan, like the war in Iraq, which was initiated ostensibly to enforce Saddam Hussein's violations of UN resolutions, is not a U.S., or a European, but a UN war. UN wars (aka, "no-win wars") have, since Korea, been fought to enhance the prestige of the UN, but the United States bears most of the cost, and most of the casualties.

Of late, after almost five years of chasing elusive al-Qaeda butterflies in Iraq, the Bush administration has decided that we must pay more attention to Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants in Afghanistan, which was al-Qaeda's stronghold to begin with.

"This is a two-way street, and I think everybody has to step back and concern ourselves with the Taliban," Secretary Rice told reporters on February 7.

The list of questions the perplexed U.S. citizen might ask is endless, but we can think of a few good ones:

  • Following the 9-11 attack, with evidence of the alliance between the Taliban and al Qaeda in hand, why didn’t President Bush ask Congress for a declaration of war against the Taliban regime before initiating Operation Enduring Freedom against Afghanistan, as our Constitution requires?
  • When the Taliban retreated from the major cities of Afghanistan, and by December 2001 had retreated into the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (where presumably Osama bin Laden has been hiding ever since), why didn’t the United States devout sufficient military resources to defeat and bring to justice all of the leaders responsible for 9-11?
  • With the culprits responsible for 9-11 still at large, why did our government dilute the resources available to apprehend them by invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9-11 and was never a threat to the United States?
  • Again, if Iraq was deemed such a threat at the time, why was there no congressional declaration of war against the nation, as our Constitution requires?
  • If the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan is such a concern, and requires additional military resources to stop, why not declare war on the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, pull all of our troops out of Iraq and send them to Afghanistan, put the Taliban out of business for good, finally apprehend Osama bin Laden, and then bring the troops home?
  • While we are at it, why haven't we put greater pressure on Pakistan (supposedly our ally) which was the only nation to maintain diplomatic relations with the Taliban government, even as we launched our war on terror and which did little to cooperate in catching Osama bin Laden, who some suspect may be hiding in Pakistan’s western Waziristan region, which is a hotbed of Taliban activity?

In the midst of an election year, wouldn't it be refreshing to see these and similar questions discussed during the presidential debates?

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