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         President Bush urges NATO allies to stand together in strong "coalition of the willing" to disarm Saddam Hussein


         NATO breaks deadlock over Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia mission




         In a news conference ahead of the NATO summit, carried live by CNN, President Bush said in Prague Wednesday that the Alliance must change to meet the threat of terrorism and urged the NATO allies to join the U.S.-led "coalition of the willing" to ensure that Iraq disarms. NATO's enlargement will invigorate the Alliance and strengthen its ability to fight global terrorism" he said, stressing:  "The enemy is not Russia.  The enemy is global terrorists who hate freedom, and together we can work to defeat that enemy in the name of freedom."   A related BBC World Service broadcast observed that while Iraq is not officially on the summit's agenda, the topic is likely to overshadow discussions on enlarging the Alliance.  While Iraq does not concern NATO directly, the U.S. will be counting on the support of the individual members of the Alliance, both political and practical, in the event of any conflict, said the program. In a similar vein, CNN suggested that a major subplot of the talks at the summit would be Iraq, with leaders closely monitoring the return of UN weapons inspectors and Saddam Hussein's reaction to them.  The NATO meeting comes as the world attention is focused on Iraq.  President Bush is counting on a strong NATO statement backing his position that Iraq must disarm or face military action, said the network.  Some believe NATO could and should have a leading role if Iraq violates the new U.N. Security Council resolution and there is a military confrontation, added the program, which carried former SACEUR, retired Gen. Clark, now a CNN military consultant, saying:  "We can even use a NATO-led force it necessary to attack Iraq through the mountains between Turkey and Iraq, and actually moving into northern Iraq, and I hope that we would be able to do that."  Earlier, the Washington Post quoted U.S. officials saying Tuesday that the Bush administration has begun soliciting support from allies for contributions of personnel and equipment to assist U.S. forces in a possible war against Iraq.  U.S. embassies in 50 countries had reportedly been told to sound out foreign leaders about their willingness to participate in military action in the event Saddam Hussein fails to comply with a new UN resolution requiring Iraq to fully disarm and open its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons facilities to inspection. 


The forthcoming NATO summit is shifting the media's attention to the military gap between the United States and the European NATO allies. 

Acknowledging that the admission of seven new members cements the end of the Cold War divisions, the Financial Times highlights that growing unilateralism in Washington, fueled by Europe's unwillingness to spend heavily on defense, leaves NATO's future in doubt.  "Gen. Ralston warns that the widening disparity in military muscle will become profoundly damaging if not tackled soon," stresses the newspaper, quoting him saying:  "For several years, the members of the Alliance have been developing their militaries along divergent paths.  As a result, NATO forces may be less able to work together in future combined operations. At the operational and strategic level, the growing disparity in military capabilities limits the operations available to the political authorities."

In a preview of the NATO summit, Le Figaro observes that the war in Kosovo illustrated the technological divide between Europe and the United States.  "Today," adds the French daily, "Gen. Ralston . goes as far as to say that 'the increasing disparities in military capacities are threatening our cohesion.'"  The article adds:  "(U.S. Ambassador to NATO) Burns drives home the message:  'We cannot have soldiers who are unable to inter-communicate, aircraft unable to use precision weapons, commanders unable to see the battlefield.'  In short, it is a question of survival for the Alliance if it wants to retain its military vocation and not degenerate into a talking shop.  Hence the effort demanded of all members to make concrete commitments. Eight priorities have been identified:  strategic air transport, guided ammunition, defense against chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, airborne land surveillance, in-flight refueling, protected communications, anti-aircraft defense, and electronic jamming." 

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nov. 19, reported that at the Prague summit, Defense Minister Struck would address Germany's military transport problems.  Noting, however, that Lord Robertson knows that this problem is not limited to Germany alone but also concerns other NATO countries, the newspaper added that the NATO secretary general has therefore proposed as an interim solution the establishment of a multinational transport association. "The idea is to set up a sort of European aircraft pool, from which every participating nation can borrow what it actually needs.  However, this entails a number of difficulties, because apparently, the most suitable transport aircraft at present would be the U.S. C-17 Globemaster.  If some U.S. aircraft were purchased now, and if these stood the test, then what would be the use of waiting another half a decade for the European military airbus?  The pool solution also causes other problems.  On the one hand, there are the costs. Furthermore, specially trained pilots are needed to fly these heavily transport aircraft-Germany and most of the other European countries do not have this staff.  Many months of training would be necessary," said the daily.

Describing the lack of military transport planes as "the emblematic example of the gap between the U.S. and its European NATO partners,"  Le Figaro expects that in Prague the allies will decide to lease some planes pending the delivery of the A400M.  "Most likely, NATO will chose the Boeing C17 Globemaster already used by the United States and Britain," stresses the newspaper.  La Libre Belgique claims that due to budgetary reasons, Belgium does not see a need for leasing C-17 Globemaster until A400M aircraft are delivered.  Prime Minister Verhofstadt considers that Belgium's C-130 aircraft are perfectly adequate-a view which is contested within NATO.  The C-130 has more or less the same range as the C-17 but can only carry the third of the load of the C-17, says the daily. 


Media also echo the message of NATO officials that the Prague summit will be a transformation summit, which will see plans to reshape the Alliance to meet new threats. 

Asked in a question-and-answer interview in Le Figaro what will make it possible to judge whether the summit has been a success or a failure, NATO Secretary General Robertson replied:  "We will have to show that the Alliance has thoroughly changed in order to take account of the new security environment.  Enlargement is a crucial aspect.  But there is also the reform of the command structures and forces:  This will be our response to the most serious threats.  It will also be necessary to make pledges with regard to capabilities, without which we will not be able to deploy rapid and mobile units.   And of course, there is our stance on terrorism:  The Alliance is certainly not a leader in this connection, but it does have a role to perform in terms of deterrence and protection."

Focusing on plans for the creation of a NATO rapid response force, The Independent suggests that after a gloomy year of soul-searching, things are looking up for the Alliance.  In addition to the response force plan, NATO is to play a back-up role to the German and Dutch peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan-a possible prelude to Alliance involvement in Iraq.  There is a new NATO partnership with Russia, and Lord Robertson has been approached by China with a request for dialogue, the newspaper continues. 

The BBC World Service carried its defense correspondent saying that the big issue on the agenda of the NATO summit is not enlargement, but the nature of the Alliance itself.  Behind all of the grand words about NATO being "the most successful alliance in history" and repeated protestations that several more countries are eager to join, fundamental questions have been missed, the correspondent insisted.

Centering on NATO's enlargement, The Times opines that while NATO is enlarging its arsenal, the target is political.  "Expansion is driven primarily by political, not military considerations. It is about embracing as many Eastern European countries as possible in the hope of spreading western values," says the newspaper. 




         Reuters quotes a NATO diplomat saying NATO broke a deadlock over plans to extend its presence in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Wednesday as France agreed to a compromise which leaves the door open for the EU to take over the peacekeeping mission.  "We have an agreement ., a balanced agreement,"  a French diplomat reportedly said, adding that "NATO will launch a new operation on December 16."  Another diplomat is quoted saying the new mission would in theory have a six-month mandate, but at France's insistence there would be a review in February with a view to handing the baton to the EU if it is ready.  According to the dispatch, the diplomat added that the question of how many troops will be allocated for the new mandate was still a matter of debate.  "Some who want the EU in there want as many as possible. Those who don't want, as many as needed," he reportedly said. 






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