Europeans Better Pay Up And Realize It’s Their War On Terror

by Ralph Peters [author, novelist]

In the spirit of the times, President Obama needs to think like a debt collector: How can he corner strategic deadbeats into paying up?

Europe’s behind in its security payments. Fifty years behind. Most of those past debts have been written off, but it’s time for the continent to pony up in Afghanistan.

The good news is that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is already making the minimum payments due.

NATO likes to advertise that it has over 50,000 troops in Afghanistan, but more than 30,000 of those are US forces. And we intend to double our commitment.

NATO’s other 25 members contribute less than 40 percent of the International Security Assistance Force. Even that’s padded by non-NATO states, such as Australia.

It gets worse. Many non-US contingents are restricted from conducting combat missions. They can hand out candy, but they can’t send rounds down range.

Before it expires, Obama needs to spend some of his political capital to get Europe to do more. Much more. We’ve been patient, but the current situation is unacceptable, with our troops and a few brave allies doing the fighting while others drink beer and collect their hazardous-duty pay.

Europe “voted” for Obama. It’s time for the continent’s deadbeats to start giving blood.

Obama must get Germans, Italians and Spaniards to fight, get the French to increase their troop commitment to match their rhetoric, and encourage every NATO member to do more.

To be fair, the Brits, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Danes and even the Estonians have been deep in the fight. But other elements – think olive-oil producing countries south of the Alps – reportedly cut their own deals with the Taliban and local warlords: “You don’t bother us, and we won’t bother you . . . We’re just here to show the flag.”

Afghanistan and NATO can’t afford that kind of check kiting.

Essentially, Obama and his security team need to convince Europeans that this fight really is their fight. Afghan opium doesn’t come to the US. The old world is far more threatened by Islamist terrorism today than we are. And Europe’s own immigrant populations are watching to see who wins.

Obama has to “move out sharply,” in military parlance. His honeymoon with Europe will last, at most, a year or two. He needs to capitalize on the European belief that he’s going to raise the lost continent of Atlantis – before he has to knock down their illusions.

When persuasion doesn’t work, he needs to be willing to shame those who expect Americans to die while their troops quaff another Hefeweizen. In the specific case of Germany, enough’s enough. It’s great that the Germans have finally shown the flag. Now they need to show some guts. The German government had to do things one step at a time, but now it’s time to take the step that matters and fight.

The other key player is France. It has skilled troops, and they’ve done good things but not their fair share. And France is the pilot fish for all the southern NATO states that have avoided serious commitments.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has been a disappointment of late, but he has good intentions. He just needs adult supervision. Obama should move fast to get the Energizer Lapin under control. Sarko craves attention. Great. Let’s make sure he gets it for the right things. Use him before you lose him.

Above all, our new president needs to reassure NATO and the world that we’re not about to quit the fight, that his administration will be as dedicated to fighting Islamist terror as the Bush administration has been.

In a matter of days, the Europeans won’t have Bush to kick around anymore. Obama’s oath of office should herald the era of no excuses in NATO. He should even consider telling countries that won’t let their troops fight that they can go home and suck it.

Bush forged his “coalition of the willing” in Iraq. In Afghanistan, Obama needs a “coalition of the killing.” ExileStreet

courtesy NY Post / copyright 2008 NY Post

Ralph Peters’ latest book is “Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.”

Ralph Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books, as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist for the New York Post and other publications.

One Response to “Europeans Better Pay Up And Realize It’s Their War On Terror”

  1. BlairSupporter Says:

    Agreed! Absolutely.

    I’m a Brit and proud of my Prime Minister, Tony Blair (well he’s still MY PM) and his firm, principled stand against terrorism.

    If Obama can persuade his brainwashed European fans to commit properly to the “war on terror” I will have to conclude that he has actually DONE something, rather than just BEEN something.

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