Sunday, July 12, 2009


NATO is an acronym for "North Atlantic Treaty Organization."

It is a formal military alliance treaty which was signed by several countries on April 4, 1949, and has enlarged, little by little, since then.

NATO has its roots in the "Treaty of Brussels," signed a year earlier by France and the United Kingdom, together with the fierce warrior nations of Belgium and The Netherlands. The Treaty of Brussels, in turn, was in response to the Soviet Union's scary aggressions, including the "Berlin Blockade."

This was only a few years after the end of World War II, and France was greatly in shambles and the United Kingdom still largely so as well. These countries took a look at themselves and then took a look at the military might of the Soviet Union, and decided that, even with the mighty Belgians and Dutch at their sides, perhaps they needed a big brother to accompany them, just in case the Soviet Union laughed at them when they told it to stop.

Who would fit the bill? Gosh.

It was thus decided to invite the USA to join their European alliance. They changed the name to "North Atlantic" (since the USA wasn't yet part of Europe) and started a whole new gang. Why the US decided to join this rather impotent little band is still not clear. The US probably thought it could more or less defend the UK and France, and even, perhaps, mighty Belgium and the Netherlands, but certainly there must have been a tiny cloud of doubt as to whether these folks could defend the US if it were ever attacked. Be that as it may, the USA joined this new thing called NATO. God bless Harry Truman.

Over the years, many other countries in Europe were invited to the party - and some of them were a pretty dang long ways from the Atlantic. The whole idea of the military alliance was to "act as one" - if any of the member countries were attacked, then the other countries must act as if they had been attacked, too. Except France. We all know how France acts when attacked.

Admittedly, this deal looked pretty good to the Europeans over the years - especially to folks like Estonia and Latvia - but the more guys there were in the club, the more chance one of them was going to be attacked. This may not have meant much to Belgium, but it kept the USA up at night.

Over the years, by gosh, some WERE attacked. And some (not France, usually) stood by their word and went and helped out. And all was well in the land of Europe.

But - horrors! - one day the unthinkable happened! The Europeans woke up one morning to the news on TV that the USA had been attacked. Well. Jumping Jiminy. THAT wasn't supposed to happen!

Not only that, but it was learned that the attackers were trained by and abetted by the hardcore religious government of a place called Afghanistan. The name of this government was "Taliban". Or at least the name of the people who made up the government were called Taliban.

The US was therefore effectively at war with Afghanistan. They were also at war with the people the Taliban trained - a group of free lance religious fanatics who subscribed to the same concept of love as the Taliban did - called, loosely, al-Qaeda. It was actually these al-Qaeda lovlies - who came from all over the middle east, but the head honchos and chief martyrs came from Saudia Arabia - who had attacked the US. God, talk about complications. Nobody wanted to irritate Saudi Arabia. Nobody is quite sure why, but that was a fact.

Anyway, al-Qaeda holed out mainly in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, so Pakistan also became the enemy. And in there somewhere amidst the other oil countries was Iran. When Pakistan had it explained to them that the US was about to bomb them until they all died, they changed their name from "enemy" to "ally." And Iran, suddenly peaceful as well, for a time, resolved to also cooperate by not shooting down any airplanes that drifted over their territory. By god.

But all this began to make the Europeans fidgety to the point they were thinking maybe they had made a bad bargain with this NATO thing. It was one thing to have the USA come to their aid over many years but quite another thing indeed to become the actual fightee, as it were.

Several countries DID ante up, though. I don't recall how many troupes the Czech Republic sent, but I think France came up with over a hundred (although they were not to be put in harms way or anything like that.) So that left the usual group to do the actual fighting. Mostly the British and the Canadians and the Australians (who were there because they remember WWII and were generally angry that the US had been attacked.) Oh, and the US, of course. But everybody had one thing in common: they felt this was not "their" war, and they didn't much like "being dragged" into "America's War".

The feeling along those lines is much more pronounced today. For example, below are a few British responses on a forum I ran across the other day, right after 8 British soldiers had been killed in action in Afghanistan. To be fair, these opinions are a lot like the liberals in the US as well - so I am not particularly picking on the British, by any means. (I would pick on the French, but, hey, no French are dying, right?)

Read these comments and see how many you agree with. But DO put them in context with this NATO thing they all signed onto.

News story headline: Eight British troops killed in Afghanistan

(Reuters) – "Britain said on Friday it had lost eight soldiers in Afghanistan in the space of 24 hours, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown said troops faced a "very hard summer," suggesting it should brace itself for more losses.

The deaths, announced by the Ministry of Defense, included five who were killed in two blasts while on foot patrol, the highest death toll in a single attack."

[End news story, start comments to news story.]
What are these laddies/lassies doing in sic a godforsaken sh!tehole,in the ersehole of nowhere?What are their deaths actually achieving?
Its a terrible loss for their families and fellow soldiers.

Although in the scope of war casualties these losses are small we have to realise that this is yet another war in which we should not be involved.

The added tragedy of these deaths and injuries is that they are pointless, in the long term they will achieve nothing.

Gorgon Brown's callous remark inferring that our troops will face even greater losses over the next few months, shows just how unfailing and self-centred this egotistic man is!

If as chancellor and now as Prime Minister Brown and his Ministers of Defence, had made the MOD furnish our troops with the right equipment these losses would almost certainly be much lower.

The military guru's are asking for more troops in Afghanistan, IMHO we should realise the real facts and be pulling our troops out.

Its time we followed the European stance and stopped being a puppet nation to the USA!

Sending even more troops into Afghanistan will not stop more atrocities like 7/7.

Terrorism is a war that has be be fought here at home, not 1000s of miles away in a foreign country.

This is a sad day,I have a son in 1st riffles,the government ie Gordon Brown needs to get them home as they will loose more and more,this is not our war.

Rosieinlondon, your comment about fighting the terrorists at home rather than in of Afghanistan make as much sense as a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest...would the Brits have rather fought the Nazis in England instead of Africa, Italy, and mainland Europe? You're no puppet of my country...feel free to wuss-out like the far as i'm concerned, I'd rather fight them overseas than in my backyard. America will do it alone if need be....

THIS IS NOT OUR WAR !!!!!!! we should not be there in the first place this is second mistake after iraq , 99% of both wars are being fought by uk & us troops the rest of the world either don't care or a very small minority just have a token support in afghan only not in iraq and are placed in very low risk areas hence 99.999% of the dead are uk & us troops FOR GOD'S SAKE BRING BACK THE BOYS NOW and stop having more grieving families. were are the WMD'S I KNOW IRAN AND NORTH KOREA HAS THEM.

Our troops should not even be in that country nor should they have been in iraq , and as our so called eu allies will not send their troops to helmand province why the hell should Britains troops be there and this is the sole reason we are suffering casualties . Rosie is right we should be fighting terrorism at home and there is no comparison re fighting them there or here , at least here the terorists are small in number and we know our own country.
David Milliband says the troops are fighting for the future of Britain , what a load of bull , we are fighting because the yanks want us there yet complain about us .
We have had to many deaths for no reason , its time to pull the troops out and let the moslems kill each other and live their backward lifestyle.
Our soldiers die every day, because they do not get the protection that they deserve. Not enough weapons, ammunition, body armour, radios, air support or vehicles that will protect them.

For that, you can blame the labour party in general and brown in particular because he, as chancellor, spent 10 years running down our defence budget so that he could spend it on asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. Spend it on the very terrorists that he sent our soldiers over to fight.

This is a socialist war, a war planned by left wing zealots who wish to force democracy upon people who do not want it.

The fenian traitor reid famously predicted that our soldiers would be in and out of afghanistan without firing a shot. He has gone to celtic to sing anti-British songs of hate. Typical bloody socialist, the enemy of Great Britain. Hang them all.
One soldier killed in Afghanistan is too many...each one that comes home in a flag drapped coffin is too many...

These are our sons, our daughters, our husbands, our brothers and sisters and our fathers...our young people.

They could be my relatives or friends...they could be yours...

But they should not be out there...

What George Bush did was a knee jerk reaction to 9/11...which was the worst peace time atrocity known to man in my lifetime I agree...

But Tony Blair should not have commited British troops to this war, history tells us, that wars in Afghanistan are unwinable...just ask the Russians...

How many more flag drapped coffins will come home carrying our soldiers before we pull our troops out...

God Bless them all...
It wouldn't be so bad if we at least gave our troops the best protection we possibly could. Get the poncers of the benefit system and the money saved (which would be massive) could be split between the NHS and the military. If you want our brave soldiers to put their life on the line at least do the decent thing and give them all the equipment they could possibly need and look after them properly. Decent housing, their own hospitals, adapted housing should they need it surely that is just basic common sense?
Guys, I am writing this from Afghanistan. I have been here for 15 months now - here are some observations that I have learned from my time here:

- Anyone who says this is about oil is sorely mistaken. I haven't seen one oil pipeline or refinery, like I did in Iraq.

- Iraq and Afghanistan are COMPLETELY different. They are not similar, as the countries are setup differently, etc. And, can I just point out, while there is the occasional bit of unease in Iraq, it seems much better now.

- We are in Afghanistan to bring freedom and stability. You may laugh at this, as the UK media does a poor job reporting the successes - all we ever hear in the UK news is about the deaths of either our guys, or the Taliban. They never report on new hospitals, schools, etc. being built by NATO for the Afghans. This Operation Panther's Claw that so many of our guys have died for - how many of you know what is is about? We are clearing the area of Taliban so the local people can vote - something that we in the UK can take for granted. The Taliban is a brutal, oppressive regime that must be stopped.

- The majority of Taliban fighters (that I have come against, certainly), are idealistic young men (most of them aren't even Afghan!) from Pakistan, who wish to carry out 'Jihad' on the Western infidels. Ask yourselves this - if we weren't here to provide a target for them, where do you think they would go to?? We would see a much larger influx of extremists into the UK.

The brave men and women out here are doing a great and important job. And while it is terrifying, sad, and brutal - we have to be here.

Just my two cents.
eliaz85, we get stories in England about lack of government spending on things like weapons, ammunition, body armour, radios, air support or vehicles that will protect you from roadside bombs. Can you tell us what the situation REALLY is? Is there anything that you think that you need to make your job safer?
Its awhful - so what they knew what they was getting into


  1. We wonder what is wrong with the world. I am not much on politics so I will only say it reminds me of the poem by Martin Niemoller, "First they came" How sad that people care only for themselves and not their fellow man.

  2. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Ha! Well that could be a comment in itself but I was applying it to my own good intention to peruse your post and comment wisely. I've run out of time. My only comment off the cuff is that I could wish you had chosen some different newspaper's readership for remarks about the war. Please don't consider them representative of the whole country.

    Why did you choose those? You went from the Elysian fields to the Champs Elysées. Your last post was about the Sun newspaper.... I might have guessed.

  3. I wrote a long comment this morning that was eaten by blogger *sigh* and then I wrote one I deleted because it was needlessly frustrated. The reason I was irked had more to do with the glitch that wasn't your fault than you, so I decided to come back later.

    Relax Max, I don't agree with the reasoning and assertions in this post. Unfortunately, it's impossible to undo what's been done and there are, of course, many that agree with you.

    I am not one of them and don't see the situation the same way. I could explain why, but I don't know what it would accomplish. It's all water under the bridge.

  4. @Ettarose - I don't want to stir up trouble, but do you think we should be going after the people, or organization of people, that was responsible for attacking the U.S.?

    @A. - Admittedly, that was a poor newspaper read by losers. Not disputing that. But I believe ANY paper would have its fair share of comments negative to the war, frustrated that it isn't over yet, and angered that people are still being killed, both soldiers and civilians. So the paper, in the end isn't a slanted representation, just fewer letters in favor. Since I wanted to be intentionally biased (I only wanted to hear from people who were against the war to see if I could collect valid reasons why) so it didn't matter.

    I want very much for you to please research what the U.S. has done to make them want to attack us and kill us all. I understand, historically, why they would hate the French and the British. But the Americans were not colonialists in the Middle East and had nothing to do with the administration of the mandates there. The Americans have done nothing but develop their oil fields at our expense and then hand them over to them, and then pay through the nose for that oil, thereby making it possible for them to live well and have good schools and nice shopping centers. We have never colonized them, only showered them with money. Here I speak of Saudi Arabia, because that is where our attackers came from, via Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    The only reason they ever give for hating us is that they don't like who we choose as friends (Israel). but then never give any logical historical evidence that Israel is wrong. They call the occupation "illegal" and it isn't - They attacked Israel with jets and bombs and tanks and troops in 1967, and they lost the war. When you attack someone and lose, you lose your land. Sorry. That's how it is. And if you still fight underground, you will never get your land back. The Israelis OWN that land now and it is up to them to decide if they want to give it back only when they feel safe enough to not get attacked again. Nothing has shown any evidence of that. I am going to do a post on the history of the Middle East soon, because nobody seems to read history books anymore: they only side blindly with the so-called Palestinians and say Israel is the aggressor. Israel attacked NOBODY. Not in 1948 and not in 1967. Since then they have only rebuffed continuing attacks by the "Palestinians". Peace is and always has been in the hands of the Palestinians. All they have to do is sit on those hands. And the so-called Palestinians never owned the land. I will prove that.

  5. @Stephanie B - I'm sorry your comment was eaten. That has happened to me a lot lately. It has gotten so bad I now copy the comment (if it is long) to my clipboard and see what happens.

    I don't know what fault you could find with my description of NATO. I tried purposely and hard to keep it narrow and factual. If you have a contract to help each other out if attacked, then you simply have to go help each other out. Internal strife excepted, of course - NATO wouldn't come in and help you put down an insurrection of your own people, or get involved in a civil war.

    This is obviously only the beginning post of something bigger, but I would appreciate you outlining points we need to discuss. Then we can together address those points (one in each post so as not to get too far afield as we often do). For example, if you think we shouldn't be in Afghanistan, state it as a debating point. If you think we have done something wrong that made us deserving of an attack on New York, the state that. If you think I am mistaken about how NATO started (I personally think we should get out of it and also out of the U.N.) then state that too. A list of things you would like to debate. Don't be shy but don't use a shotgun on me. Let's do one at a time, please.

    I am never angry at how you say things. I am passionate too. Only upset when someone goes off in too many directions for me to follow. :)

    Damn blogger and their comment-eating crap servers!

  6. @Stephanie B - I do think a recent "perversion" of the intent of NATO occurred which was not in accordance to the charter's rules. I speak of the war in Kosovo. This was clearly and internal affair, a civil war, a breakaway province. Of course one sympathized with stopping the "ethnic cleansing" being done wholesale by the Serbs. Sort of like Sherman's march through Georgia though: A private affair. But in goes NATO to stop it. I'm glad they did, but was it legal? I don't think so. Of course they went under the auspices of the U.N., but still it was NATO forces doing the fighting. Questionable, I say. But what to do?

  7. "I want very much for you to please research what the U.S. has done to make them want to attack us and kill us all."

    What it is to wake up to find your To Do list already made up by somebody else. And I thought I had plenty to do today. Is this for your benefit, or for mine?

    There are other definitions of colonialism that could be applied.

  8. The organization is a long long worm and if you cut out a section another one grows. I do not think you could get to the entire organization.
    NATO is a contract that was signed by the leaders and we believe our leaders do the best for us so it should be binding. If NATO is not what we need then it is up to the people to voice that opinion to the higher powers. Then and only then will it be removed, and only with a LOT of voices. Until then it is here, deal with it.

  9. I need to back off the heated comment that "Palestinians never owned the land and I'll prove it." I was talking about them not owning ALL of Palestine, exclusive of the Jews, because they were always there too and also owned land. But both owned it at the pleasure of a higher occupier. That is what I meant. I wanted to rebut the Palestinians' claims that it ALL has ALWAYS been their rightful land, throughout history. No way.

  10. A. - Why do I do this? When will I learn? I have already reassigned the task. Sorry. I gave it to Sheila. She knows how to get things done. But I haven't heard back from her. Strange.

    I'd like to hear those other definitions of colonialism.:)

    @Ettrose - I'm guessing al-Qaeda is the worm? Or NATO? Both, probably. :)

    It wouldn't take that many voices. 51 Senators, actually. And, bam! - we are out of NATO. And someday, if the fates are on our side, our children will see that stupid U.N. building floating down the Hudson and out to sea. And we can spend that wasted money on our own poor. All they do anyway is argue endlessly and pass "resolutions". Well I passed a resolution last night. I'm not going to allow North Korea to have a nuclear program. So now there are two resolutions for that, mine and the U.N.'s. Mine has the same change of being enforced - zero.

  11. There are many points in your post and many comments I would make.

    On the forming of NATO: I suspect the reasoning was put differently at the time but that you are essentially correct on the inclusion of the US, but I disagree we had no incentive to do so. Perhaps you are like Charles Linbergh and prefer to leave everyone (friends and allies) on their own. Perhaps you thought our involvement in WWII was a complete waste. I'm speculating, not saying that's what you think.

    Getting into the wars at at time when we could have made more difference with less cost was hampered. If one didn't want the same thing to happen again, signing into NATO makes sense. It also makes sense as the twentieth century saw international trade go gangbusters (particularly military equipment, but certainly many things). Few nations were fully self-sufficient and all were dependent on trade. Back then, we sent a lot more than we got back so keeping friends would make a lot of sense. But, again, that reasoning is speculative.

    However, as soon as you finish with NATO, your reasoning moves into a realm where I can't follow you. If terrorist attacks=act of war by whatever nation the attackers were living in, then (a) we should have carpet bombed some US cities after the OKC bombing, (b) we should have declared war on Ireland some time this past century (did I miss that?), (c) we should have been warring on behalf of our NATO allies multiple times since they were hit with multiple terrorist attacks long before we had one.

    Admittedly, ours was spectacular in a horrible way, but that's a matter of magnitude. If one's an act of war, they all are.

    I didn't see then and I don't see now the point of bombing the crap out of already decimated villages in Afghanistan (which hadn't recovered from the Soviet's long-term attempts at occupation) when there was no reason to suspect the bad guys (who had the most money and resources) would stick around to be affected by it. Nor did they. Other than, of course, venting some spleen (and, yes, we were entitled to be angry, but I see no merit in misdirect rage).

    And, as most of the actual culprits were Saudi Arabian, the target makes little sense unless one happens to be big friends with the Saudi or they happen to be very powerful (militarily or otherwise). Just sayin'.

    I personally feel the invasion of Iraq just proved my point.

    And, no, I didn't hear liberals saying this so I just mouthed the same stuff. Heck, I said it then and I wish to Heaven the liberals had been screaming louder, that I heard more taking a stance. But they didn't and we'll have the stigma of these acts for some time.

    Now, if someone had showed up in Florida with some tanks and an invasion force and Europe had been sitting there twiddling thumbs and finding excuses, that would be different.

    You seem to think there's a double standard. I agree with that, I'm pretty sure we're the ones not playing by the same rules.

    Remember, you asked for the details.

  12. @Stephanie B -

    1. I believe the real reason the U.S. joined NATO was to have a way to seem “legitimate” when we confronted the USSR over the Berlin Blockade. France and the UK were one-third “owners” of West Germany at the time, with the U.S. being the third “administrator.” Since Berlin was wholly inside the part of Germany under the control of the USSR, they were trying to make a point that Berlin should not be open to all 4 or them, as it was, but should be simply another city that was inside “their” territory. They were flexing their muscles and had cut off the supply roads to Berlin. I think (my personal opinion) the U.S. didn’t want to confront them without seeming to have a consensus. It worked. We backed them down with the Berlin Airlift.

    Frankly, I don’t believe we needed a formal NATO for us to be able to come to the aid of anyone we felt like coming to the aid of. In fact, being OBLIGATED to come to the aid of another country seems like being part of a gang rather than fighting for a friend. For example, I as an American would be happy to fight shoulder to shoulder with France or the UK if they were being attacked. That’s what friends do. And if other countries KNOW we would come to the aid of the UK, for example, then they would be less likely to attack the UK, even if we had no formal agreement. On the other side of the coin, I would not be too keen to come to the military aid of turkey or the Eastern Europeans, and I hate that we would be forced to do so (although Turkey sure turned out to be a turkey about helping the U.S. when they needed help.

    These formal alliances started World War One.

    I do agree if NATO had existed earlier, we would have entered the war in Europe earlier. But nobody can convince me that would have been the right thing to do. It is only differing opinions. The U.S. was doing plenty on the seas (blockading German ships in South America so they couldn’t return to the battle, and covertly supplying Britain, for 2 examples) to help in the war effort long before we officially entered the war.

    To summarize, it is my opinion that we did the right thing by joining NATO, because the USSR needed to be confronted with a united allied front, starting with the Berlin Crisis and going throughout the cold war. But at the end of the Cold War, it was just the Warsaw Pact Nations against the NATO nations, and it was only getting colder and colder. So I think the alliance served it’s purpose in the Cold War and I also think it should be disbanded now. It only serves to irritate Russia needlessly. And the members don’t meaningfully come to our aid anyway, with notable exceptions. In my opinion it is becoming a cause for war and not a deterrent for war. We need to be talking to Russia and not continuing to shove crap in their face and humiliating them with things like unworkable missile shields. Just for the sake of antagonizing them.

    I’m not a pacifist. I don’t believe in condoning any aggression as long as it is directed at some other country. In the end, it IS our business if there is a rogue country, like Germany was, loose in the world. Because sooner or later they WILL come for you; and we ARE - all of us - our brother’s keeper. Talk about human rights is hollow without being willing to back it up. That is why I think Obama is failing with Iran right now. Bush would never have kept his mouth shut. If they decided to renew the fighting in Iraq, then come ahead on. (I realize the U.S. thinks differently from Europeans. That’s okay.)

    Not an economic isolationist either, although I disagree with you that we are not one of the few countries who could survive without outside help as far as food and materials go. Until WWII we were very isolationist. That’s one of the reasons it took us so long to enter “Europe’s War.”

    I want to go on record, though, as saying I hate NAFTA and want it gutted and hung out to dry immediately.

    How could my response to your one paragraph turn out to be this long?

    But even more to follow...

  13. @Stephanie B - It’s hard for me to make a post short enough on a large subject where it is easy to comment on only one point. If I make a post with only one point it won’t makes sense in any larger context. At the same time, when the post has several individual points, it is hard to pick one and comment on them. I’m glad you stuck with it even though there were many points to address.

    Just to keep my own thinking focused, though, I hope you will let me take just one section of your comment at a time, and address the rest of your points in a subsequent comment. When I say “address”, I mean “give you my return feedback” as in a conversation; I don’t mean “here is the right answer since you are so misguided.” Obviously all I have are opinions on most of the points. So here are my “return opinions” on the first paragraph of your comment, which was:

    “On the forming of NATO: I suspect the reasoning was put differently at the time but that you are essentially correct on the inclusion of the US, but I disagree we had no incentive to do so. Perhaps you are like Charles Lindbergh and prefer to leave everyone (friends and allies) on their own. Perhaps you thought our involvement in WWII was a complete waste. I'm speculating, not saying that's what you think.”

    Here are my though processes when I read this paragraph:

    1. She thinks there was more to the U.S. joining NATO than I seemed to be saying in my post. (She is right. Obviously there was another reason the U.S. wanted to join NATO. She thinks there is another incentive that made the U.S. join NATO. I think I should say what I think that real incentive was.)

    2. She brings up Charles Lindbergh; does she think I am a pacifist like he was? Does she think I am an isolationist? She admits she has no way of knowing, but I think I should state what I think I am.

    3. More to the point of the post, she seems to be saying that if we had had formal defense treaties before WWII, we wouldn’t have “wasted so much time” getting involved. She thinks the U.S. could have been more helpful if we had entered WWII earlier.

    Of course, I run the risk of misinterpreting when I read between the lines like that, but we all think like that when we are having a conversation and waiting our turn to talk. If we are wrong, we get corrected. And the above is what I was thinking as you were “talking”. Right or wrong, then, here is my response to that, based on what I believe you were saying to me: (see next comment)

  14. I appreciate your answer and agree with your interpretation of my speculation.

    I don't know if going into WWII earlier would have changed things. I have no mind on this to change, but I don't think it's impossible. However, it may not have done anything. I don't doubt that, given the large spectrum of possibles "earliers" we could have come in, there are more than one answer. As you say, it's just an exercise in speculation. There's no way to know.

    I don't know that I'm a pacifist. I like to think of myself as a realist that prefers peace to the alternative unless there is no other reasonable choice, unless there is strong evidence that what we're trying to stop is worse that what we're going to try to stop it with.

    Given our ridiculous high energy needs per capita, I don't think we could survive without international trade TODAY (or not without drastic changes in lifestyle), but I don't disagree that it was a far different picture back then. And so many companies big in this country now are actually multinational conglomerates. I think going isolationist, at this point, would be dead in the water.

  15. @Stephanie B - This comment is just a continuation of my response to your first long one, rather than the one above right now. You make some good points, as you always do, but I have a response (again I don't pretend to be the answer man here, but here is what I think). In your next section, you said:

    "However, as soon as you finish with NATO, your reasoning moves into a realm where I can't follow you. If terrorist attacks=act of war by whatever nation the attackers were living in, then (a) we should have carpet bombed some US cities after the OKC bombing, (b) we should have declared war on Ireland some time this past century (did I miss that?), (c) we should have been warring on behalf of our NATO allies multiple times since they were hit with multiple terrorist attacks long before we had one.

    Admittedly, ours was spectacular in a horrible way, but that's a matter of magnitude. If one's an act of war, they all are."

    There are a couple things we need to agree on before we can continue. First, we must agree that the NATO charter talks about one country attacking another country, and does NOT apply to domestic insurrections, or domestic terrorism, or civil wars. NATO will never bomb Oklahoma City. NATO will never bomb Belfast. These things are simply beyond the scope and intention of the treaty.

    But at the same time, you make a valid point. The attack on the World Trade Center was carried out by people who were all citizens of Saudi Arabia.

    In past wars, this would have been so simple. But the fact is, Saudi Arabia didn't send these people out as their agents. Saudi Arabia did not really attack the U.S.

    So, what to do? Here we were confronted by something completely different in the world of warfare: an enemy who really was not acting on behalf on any country. They were simply religious fanatics.

    I hate to use the word "crusade" because the crusades were hardly the high point of western civilization, but this current "war on terrorism" brings us face to face with the crusades: a religious war between two religions, with combatants coming from more than one country to fight each other.

    There are no uniforms on the terrorist side, and no pretension that they are fighting for Saudi Arabia or Pakistan; only fighting for what their religion tells them (they think) to do.

    On the other side, you DO have organized armies who are representing countries instead of a religion. The al-Qaeda are quick to call it another crusade, but they are dead wrong because NATO is not fighting for Christianity or any other religion.

    So, again, what to do? Well, you are faced with a new situation where you can't just go bomb their citizenship country in retaliation. Instead you must bomb THEM - wherever they happen to be holing up.

    (comment continued)

  16. @Stephanie B - Continuing...

    And where they were holing up, we discovered after investigation (and after the Taliban admitted it) was in Afghanistan and in the mountainous border region on the Afghan-Pakistani border. Some were undoubtedly actually inside Pakistan. Why? Because these were sympathizers of the same extremist religious beliefs.

    Yet we couldn't really bomb Pakistan since Pakistan's government wasn't backing them or sending them out against us, or perhaps, not even sympathetic to their cause. The Pakistani government, I mean.

    The only country we could bomb or attack with legitimacy was Afghanistan. Their government DID train, equip, harbor, and abet our attackers. So, there were two things going on in Afghanistan:

    First, we were going after the terrorist al-Qaeda fighters in their strongholds in the mountains, with our special forces and with bombers called in to targets by those special forces. Later the special forces were reinforced by the 10th Mountain troops.

    This was mountain warfare, cave to cave. Ambush by ambush. Eventually, al-Qaeda was driven out of Afghanistan proper and into the nebulous tribal regions both countries claimed.

    As for the Afghan government, a war was being waged against them too, in an attempt to topple the government. This was more like the old conventional war where each side had uniforms and were fighting for a country.

    We began by assisting the existing rebel forces who had been fighting the Afghan government (called the Taliban) forever. This is as it should be: whenever there is an existing resistance against your enemy, you are wise to start by aiding that resistance. Suddenly, they had the ability to call in bombers on the Taliban army, these rebels. Our bombers. All they had to do is tell our special forces who were in their ranks that that they needed this or that target bombed,and it was bombed.

    The Taliban army was driven ever southward. Each city was fought for fiercely. But, finally, the Taliban, too, were driven into the tribal no man's land.

    In the interim, fighters came from several Islamic countries to assist the Taliban. Some even came from the USA. Many potential martyrs were captured on the battle field. Those from other countries with no uniforms (and who had not been sent by those countries) but who were combatants doing their best to kill NATO forces, mostly Americans, were captured.

    The worst hardcore of these, especially al-Qaeda leaders who had knowledge of operations, were sent to a special prison on a U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.

    Why? Because they presented a special problem: they were not prisoners of war as defined by the Geneva Accords. In other words, they did not represent a country; they did not wear a uniform that clearly labeled them as a soldier; they wouldn't stop fighting if any country (including their country of birth) told them to; they were fighting for a religious concept and not a national concept.

    Had they been uniformed combatants sent out by a real government they could have been sent to prison camps in the USA or anywhere else until hostilities were over and they could be repatriated.

    This is enough for this chunk, but I do want to talk about what you call "bombing the crap out of already decimated villages" next time.

    Thanks again for hearing my side out.

  17. I can't say your account jibes with my own memory, but I don't expect that arguing about it would change either opinion.

    I don't agree with your slant, but do agree we were in a different situation than our historic military ventures in the past.

    Given that, it does beg the question: what does the NATO charter call for, attacking wild independent groups that attack our countries or just militant nations?

  18. @Stephanie B - Well, that was the rub. Attacks had always come from other "real" countries. But in the end, I guess they just decided an attack was an attack was an attack - as long is it came from some outside "entity." Anyway, nobody could deny the U.S. had been actually attacked, so that meant, in the end, the NATO crew had to get on board in the counterattack. Strange how these things suck you in. I think military alliances tend to start more wars than they prevent. At the very least, just do it one on one instead of a whole bunch of countries.



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