Magazine article National Defense

NATO Struggling to Define Its Role in War on Terrorism

Magazine article National Defense

NATO Struggling to Define Its Role in War on Terrorism

Article excerpt

Rising stars in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are receiving comprehensive instruction in the military and political ramifications of global terrorism at the NATO Defense College in Rome.

This training, however, does not mean that European nations would agree to conduct combat operations in the Middle East. European members traditionally have resisted overt military, action unless the threat is on their very doorstep, college officials said.

Within the treaty organization, they noted, there is considerable disagreement over the definition of terrorism and obvious disapproval of the United States' "SWAT team" approach to combating this threat.

They also expressed concern over the long-term prospects of NATO, which has floundered since the end of the Cold War, adding that the increasing friction between the United States, France and Germany has contributed to this growing uncertainty.

Economic and political competition, especially in the absence of the formidable pressure once exerted by the now defunct Soviet Union, is contributing to this malaise, they added.

U.S. Air Force Col. Peter Faber, a senior member of the college faculty, pointed to the recent agreement of the alliance's 26 members to help train Iraqi forces and provide security troops in Afghanistan. In a recent interview, he noted that this action Falls short of providing a force to actually confront and defeat terrorists.

Also sounding an optimistic note is the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, R. Nicholas Burns, who recently wrote in the International Herald Tribune:

"Some have asked whether an alliance established to safeguard the security of Europe and North America should have any role in Iraq, a country that lies well beyond Europe's borders. The simple answer is that if NATO is to remain the world's most effective military ,and political alliance, it must adapt its fundamental strategy to the realities of the post-September 11 world. …

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