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Updated: 02-Jul-2004

News Summary & Analysis

1 July 2004

  • Gen. Jones discusses Olympic security with Greek officials


  • Dutch government willing to lead PRT in Afghanistan
  • UN, Afghans divided on election date deadline


  • AP reports that during an informal one-day visit to Athens Thursday, Gen. Jones discussed Olympic security plans with Public Order Minister Voulgarakis and the Greek General Staff. “We had a meeting on issues dealing with NATO’s contribution and had a very good discussion. We will have more meetings with (Gen. Jones) and other officials until the Olympics start on the issue of forces that will be deployed for security,” the dispatch quotes Voulgarakis saying. NATO will help safeguard the Olympics, supplying AWACS, ships and an anti-chemical warfare unit, it notes.


  • NRC Handelsblad, June 29, reported that at the Istanbul summit, Prime Minister Balkenende told NATO heads of state and government that as of mid-September, the Netherlands would send 120 to 150 troops to Afghanistan to run a PRT in the northern province of Baghlan. Troops would come mainly from the Peel-based guided-arms air force squadron and will be supplemented by army and navy troops. They will stay for one year, Balkenende reportedly said. The daily stressed that the Second Chamber, which still has to approve the Baghlan mission, reacted positively to the government’s plan. It added, however, that Parliament will not be able to decide on the mission until next week, at the earliest, after the start of the parliamentary recess.

  • According to AP, the UN said Thursday Afghan and UN officials are divided on whether national elections can go ahead as planned in September. The dispatch notes that President Karzai has insisted there should be no fresh delay in the vote. It adds, however, that a spokesman for the UN, which shares power in Afghanistan’s electoral management body, said there was no agreement yet on when the vote will happen, stressing: “There is indeed a debate. Of course, if the debate goes on, that will have an impact on the election date.” Afghan members of the commission reportedly either declined to comment or could not be reached Thursday. The dispatch stresses that under Afghan law, polling day must be set 90 days in advance. That makes Friday the last chance to announce a Sept. 30 election. Some commission members have suggested that the vote will be in October—the last month before villages in the Hindu Kush mountains can be cut off by snow, adds the dispatch.

In the wake of the Istanbul summit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung looks at NATO’s future.
The article says: “If official statements by the NATO leadership are taken at face value, then Americans and Europeans have found their way back to realism, and the Alliance is on its way to recovery. NATO is said to be getting increasingly more important and is the ‘indispensable’ security organization of the 21st century, the promises say. One would like to exclaim: that would be nice. But is it really out of the woods?” Stressing that the Iraq conflict was not the only thing to disrupt the Alliance, the article continues: “The ultimate test consists in the transformation from a defensive alliance to a potentially worldwide deployable security organization, which takes on threats where they develop. The projection of stability becomes one of NATO’s core tasks…. Whether NATO will actually find its way to new unity and determination with stability projection and a bundle of partnerships depends also, but not solely, on a successful resolution of crises. If the United States continues to organize its global political-military actions with easily-led ‘coalitions of the willing,’ … the Alliance relations would corrode and the Alliance would turn into a tool box, whose parts would be more important than the whole. There are indications that the Bush administration is in the process of rediscovering the value of the organization, but the trend toward bilateralization still prevails. To be sure, it makes little sense for the United States’ European partners to complain about this method if they themselves still encourage it: by not fulfilling their obligations, or only insufficiently, and by opening up their defense budgets for other ministries to loot. More and more European members are thus withdrawing from the circle of those who are even capable of partnership. Keeping NATO together is therefore being undermined by the two sides. And yet, regardless of the crisis symptoms, NATO is attractive. In Istanbul the heads of state and government of by now 26 member nations met for the first time. Croatia, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are the next candidates; Georgia and Azerbaijan are also pushing toward the West…. Analyzing together, deciding together, acting together—that would be a formula with which NATO could assure the continued existence as a partnership of convenience. Even if that would not yet get at the core problem, the serious imbalance in military strength, it would be the right political approach for dealing with the crises of the present—together.”


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