NATO and the Fight against Terrorism
Introduction and Brief History of NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO when abbreviated came into inception in the year 1949 and was widely viewed as a gesture of cooperative alliance between different American and European states. The prime and key objective facilitating the formation of the organization was to provide support and assistance to member states in need of collective defense and mutual support in cases of a military attack by a third external party.
At the beginning of this military alliance some members that acted as a precursor included UK, France, Belgium (where the treaty was officially signed) and Luxembourg. An important member of this organization is the United States which has encouraged the formation of such an alliance but at the same time has also refrained from its military being classified or working under the NATO cover.
A brief analysis of the international situation and scenario would also help us in developing a better understanding and clarity regarding the actual agenda that led to the formation of this military alliance. In the year 1949 when this military alliance came into formation the world was entering into a phase of decolonization, the colonies that were once under direct French and British imperialistic control were waging movements that could led them to independence and acquisition of sovereignty and with the fueling resentment and sentiment of detestation that was pumping in the people of these colonies was making it difficult for the security forces of these imperial powers to maintain their control in these territories.
Furthermore after the end of the Second World War many of these empires were also confronted with the worst kind of economic crisis and situations. The massive military expenditures that were continuously being pumped to ensure the provision of different services and sustenance to forces deployed in these areas was making it extremely difficult for these countries to ensure economic and national security at home.
Another reason that can also be allied with all this was the bipolar visage of the world after the end of the war leaving the ground completely open for the ideological contenders US and USSR to practice and showcase their military, economic and diplomatic resistances on every scale possible. Hence with USSR emerging as the bastion of communism in the world, European countries because of their geographical proximity began to feel threatened and it was precisely the reason due to which the inclusion of US in NATO alliance became mandatory so that the balance in terms of power can be attained easily.
Therefore from the situation that has been described it is not very difficult to understand that the formation of a military alliance like NATO was predominantly focused to ensure the security of European states from the rising threat from the Eastern pro-communist wing.
In that case an important question that pops is that after the disintegration of USSR in 1991 the core agenda behind the formation of NATO has automatically eroded, but it might seem complicated to digest but just after a decade NATO and the different salient features it comprises of underwent complete restructuring and shift of agenda.
The organization that was primarily founded for countering the communism monster was now shifting its focus towards global security measures and eradicating the menace of terrorism. During the course of this discussion we would be analyzing the different contributions that NATO has executed in the War Against terrorism and the extent to which the performance of this role has proved effective in combating the highly sophisticated ways which terrorists have devised to perform their terrorist activities.
NATO and the post-9/11 world
The incident of 9/11 brought NATO once again into military mainstream once again. The attack on the WTC which killed more than 3000 people was considered an open call of war from the radicals and extremists that envied the progress and development of the US.
It did not take long for the US to convince other members of the alliance to vote in favor of a military operation primarily because of the triumphant security that US had provided to its European allies during the time of the Cold War and hence it was there turn now. Since then NATO and US forces have worked collectively to combat militants and terrorists in different areas of Afghanistan.
As far as the question regarding the effectiveness of such operations is concerned it must be acknowledged with a rather heavy heart that the entire operation is not achieving the success that it was supposed to. (Asmus, 2002)
During the initial years of the entire operation it seemed that NATO has been able to take control of the areas that were once governed by Taliban, but the victory seemed fleeting and of temporary nature once the Taliban and other associated militant groups were able to fuel resurgence by devising more destructive means and strategies to resist the NATO forces. A pie chart of casualties of coalition forces has also been provided below for a better understanding of the entire situation.
After looking at the figures one can have a comprehensible look and overview of the problem. It has been the US that has lost the greatest number of its soldiers in the war so far.
In addition to this the ways which militants have now implied to combat NATO forces are proving more destructive for allied forces, so much so that UK which us an active member of the NATO alliance is thinking to resolve the Afghan conflict by making use of diplomatic channels rather than relying on military options. Furthermore the military operation that is currently being conducted in Afghanistan faces a dual threat.
First in the form of the military resistance that the allied forces encounter in the battle field from the Afghan Taliban and second are in the form of similar radical elements that are present in the regional allied of US and NATO such as Pakistan. Trucks and other transportation that contains food and other important materials for soldiers are regularly torched and set on fire by the pro-Taliban groups and factions that exist in Pakistani territory which has further deteriorated the peace keeping and security operations of NATO forces in the country. (Sundquist, 2008)
According to many defense analysts NATO is combating an invisible enemy primarily because of the guerilla war tactics that militants in Afghanistan are using to combat these forces. NATO and US forces have also encountered problems from the very initial phase of the entire operation in gaining the support and favor of the local population and hence the degree of reliance and dependence on the local population for information and other subversive activities is always counted as skeptic.
Two incidents that are of prime importance in this context is the Torah Bora operation that was launched by security forces to catch Osama Bin Laden. The entire operation underwent complete failure because of the level of misinformation from the very sources that the security forces were relying upon. One of such sources was called Hazrat Ali who managed to escape leaving the forces in the midst of a brutal crackdown.
Similar incidents in terms of information and diplomacy have also plagued the credibility and military enlightenment of security forces in recent times which on one hand has maligned the reputation of NATO, on the other hand has also posed some serious questions upon the credibility of the ways and strategies that are being employed for this entire operation. (Bacewich, 2002)
NATO and Iraq operation
Here it is also important to mention the with the passage of time the performance of NATO as a complete and full-fledged military alliance has also alleviated primarily because of the divisions that eroded its unity since the initiation of a military operation in Iraq.
Some of the NATO countries like Russia, France and Germany decided to part ways from the operation that they believed was unnecessary and would fuel uncontrollable and irrevocable wave of terrorism and extremism in the entire world.
As a result of such marginalization of allies NATO today is not involved in any direct kind of combat in the country but on the other hand has reorganized its agendas and motives towards the training, equipment and technical assistance of Iraqi forces that have been created since the formation of the interim government in the country.
Recommendation and Conclusion
In conclusion it would be appropriate to say that military operations that the NATO forces are engaged in Afghanistan and military training in Iraq are not providing any fruitful and effective results even after nine years since the War against Terrorism and as to what is speculated from experts and foreign policy specialists the entire military situation does not seem very favorable in terms of either the NATO or the US security forces.
The number of casualties is constantly on the surge with 2010 being the year registering the highest number of reported deaths of soldiers. Furthermore the operation has also fostered rifts in the civil and military relations of US which manifested itself in the retrenchment and axing of General McChrystal. Money and finance is constantly being pumped but the outcomes are nowhere to be seen.
Hence it is more or less a requirement and demand of time that NATO and US forces to devise cohesive strategies through the help of local population and the Afghan government devise a proper work plan structure through which they can ensure their proper withdrawal from the region and also shield themselves from the malignancy and defamation that the Red Army faced in 1979. (Morellie and Paul, 2009)
One of the initial steps that can be taken in this context is to establish and initiate negotiations with the rather diplomatic wing of Talibans.