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Military

Updated: 18-May-2004
 

SHAPE News Summary & Analysis

18 May 2004

ESDP

  • UK and France disagree on role of arms agency

IRAQ

  • Britain to send 3,000 extra troops to Iraq
  • Chancellor Schroeder urges dispatch of Moslem troops to stabilize Iraq

ESDP

  • Britain and France, Europe's two most important military powers, are at loggerhead over the role of a new armaments agency, set up earlier this year to shape European defense , writes the Financial Times . According to the newspaper, the main contentious issue between London and Paris is how they see the agency's long-term role. Diplomats reportedly said France sees the agency as a way to create a European defense manufacturing base, backed by more spending on research and development. Britain, however, wants the agency to be used to improve military capabilities. The article notes that the agency's functions involve improving Europe's defense capabilities, encouraging armament cooperation, developing a European defense, technological and industrial base/defense equipment market, and research and development.

IRAQ

  • The Times reports the government will announce next week that Britain is sending up to 3,000 extra troops to Iraq, increasing Britain's military commitment by a third. The force of Royal Marines and an armored infantry battle group will reportedly be sent to an area of volatile southern Iraq recently vacated by Spanish troops. According to the article, the government is expected to argue that the reinforcements, which will bring the British presence to about 10,000, are part of its exit strategy, which focuses on accelerating the training of Iraqi military to take over.

  • According to AFP , Chancellor Schroeder said in Brussels Tuesday that NATO was not the appropriate body to stabilize Iraq and instead called for the dispatch of troops from Islamic countries. "I have doubts: Is NATO the good instrument to stabilize Iraq?," he reportedly told a news conference after attending a meeting of the Belgian cabinet, adding: "I'm wondering whether it would not be more appropriate (to send) troops from Moslem countries to gain the trust of the (Iraqi) population." He stressed, however, that he would not block a decision by NATO to send troops.

The discovery in Iraq of a shell containing the nerve agent Sarin is generating interest. The Washington Post notes that the discovery, reported Monday by a team that has been searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq since shortly after last year's U.S.-led invasion, marked the first time the team has found one of the types of weapons that the Bush administration cited as initial justification for toppling the government of Saddam Hussein. The article adds, however, that weapons experts cautioned that the shell appeared to predate the 1991 Gulf War and did not necessarily mean that Saddam possessed hidden stockpiles of chemical munitions. "The shell was the first evidence of weapons of mass destruction found since the war, though U.S. officials said it was almost certainly produced before the 1991 Gulf War," says a related article in the Times . BBC News noted in a similar vein that the shell's discovery appears to be the first evidence of nerve gas existing in Iraq since the start of the U.S.-led war last year.

In the Washington Post , James Steinberg, deputy national security adviser in the Clinton administration and vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, opines that in Iraq "we should shift the focus away from the United States as the enforcement arm of the international community to Iraq's neighbors and others that share these interests, including NATO and the UN." "We should begin by convening a major international summit on Iraq, involving not only western allies but also Arab leaders and Iraqis, at the time of the NATO summit next month in Istanbul," Steinberg writes, adding: "We should accelerate the training and equipping of new security forces for Iraq. Less than 10 percent of the necessary numbers of soldiers and police have been properly trained to date. Filling this vacuum is critical to the success of this strategy, because indigenous forces are far more likely than foreign forces to succeed in defeating the residual Baathist and foreign fighters in Iraq. If Arab countries and NATO devoted just 10 percent of their police and military training capacity to Iraqi forces, we could complete an intensified training process." An editorial in Die Welt , May 17, stressed meanwhile that the Bush administration alone cannot stabilize world order. The Western Alliance is still needed. "The Bush administration started a war that it thought would be a surgical operation. It is now trying to stabilize world order there. It is not equipped to do this. In the past, such a task fell to Harry S. Truman. He opposed the Soviet system with an Atlantic principle accompanied by the realization of the strength and limits of American power, the charm of 'soft power,' and the sense of lasting alliances. Only if the West relearns this, in a new world situation, does it still have a chance in Iraq," the article stressed.

 



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