Thursday, June 10, 2004

For months now John Kerry has been publicizing as a viable alternative plan for Iraq his pipe dream of a robust NATO military presence in the US colony. Jacques Chirac definitively put that baby to bed at Sea Island, GA.
Just hours after President Bush expressed hope that NATO could play an expanded role in providing security for Iraq, French President Jacques Chirac emphatically rejected the idea. "I do not think that it is NATO's job to intervene in Iraq," Chirac told reporters in a videoconference from Sea Island, the private resort where the leaders have gathered. "Moreover, I do not have the feeling that it would be either timely or necessarily well understood," said Chirac, adding that he had "strong reservations on this initiative."

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a guest at the summit, later echoed Chirac's concern. Asked whether NATO, which includes Turkey as a member, should have a role in Iraq, Erdogan said: "The concept we've been emphasizing is the role of the United Nations."

. . . NATO officials have privately said there is little chance for a significantly expanded role anytime soon. NATO has taken over the multilateral force in Afghanistan with great difficulty -- efforts to send six Dutch Apache helicopters to Kabul were stymied until Luxembourg came up with the money, for instance -- and NATO officials said the alliance cannot play a major role in Iraq until it completes its mission in Afghanistan.
There are currently some 6500 non-US NATO troops in Afghanistan. If NATO can't put significantly more boots on the ground there, how is it going to make anything more than a symbolic gesture in Iraq? Britain, Italy, Spain and Poland already have (or had) thousands of soldiers in Iraq. Who is left but Germany (already heavily committed to Afghanistan), France and Turkey (who wants to sit down in Kurdistan -- not a good idea)?

And really, why in the world would France want to send their troops to Iraq? There really is nothing to be gained. Bootlicking states in Eastern Europe are keen to show their commitment to both NATO and the US, but even the Poles with their 2400 soldiers are reaching the end of their rope. 1000 Bulgarians here, 500 Hungarians there, 300 Belgians over here, aren't going to make any meaningful difference. Iraq was, is and shall be an American operation.

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