Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has sparked a growing debate with America’s NATO allies over the course of events in Afghanistan. Many members of NATO blame the Bush administration for splintering an alliance which has endured for nearly fifty years. At a recent NATO symposium in Washington, speakers critcised the Gates policy of “blaming people” because it is a dead end approach to problem solving. “The second thing that’s not going to work is consistently emphasizing everything that’s wrong in Afghanistan,” said one speaker. He stressed the importance of coming up “with reasonable demands without consistently blaming.”
The Gates complaint that American forces are doing a better job of fighting in Afghanistan is certainly not one that will resonate positively in NATO nations where thousands of their troops are currently fighting in Afghanistan. In January, Gates decided to send 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan to help deal with military problems.
Perhaps, one continual problem is that after six years of fighting the region lacks overall clear goals as to responsiblities and what needs to be accomplished. The Afghanistan government still allows medieval minded clerics to enforce their version of what constitutes free speech or free press even though what they desire is exactly what the Taliban seeks. Many NATO nations want to know why their troops are fighting to preserve such a backward form of government.