Peter MacKay had a stopover in London yesterday en route to a NATO kegger in Krakow, Poland later this week.
MacKay took time out to speak boldly to a gathering of members of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as "Chatham House." MacKay pulled no punches, "We need to have a frank discussion about the future of NATO."
I'll go that far with Pete. We do need to have that discussion. Except I'd bet the last thing MacKay really wants is to spark a frank discussion about just what in hell NATO's doing in Afghanistan anyway.
"The U.S. re-emphasis on the mission in Afghanistan – with the commitment of more troops, more development, more diplomacy – has brought a predictable sigh of relief from some around the alliance," he said, suggesting some saw it as a chance to sit back and say, "It's okay, the Americans will handle it."
"As the United States says, its contribution is designed to reinforce, not to replace. ... We all need to maintain our collective effort so that we maximize the official contribution from the United States."
"If NATO cannot deter or defeat the real physical threat facing alliance members, and indeed contribute to the building of security for the larger international community, then we have to ask ourselves, what is NATO for?"
Pete's got a point but it's a fairly narrow one that dodges a lot of facts, questions and problems. What is the "real, physical threat facing alliance members" from the Taliban? And, if we are facing a real threat, why have we been playing at 'counterinsurgency on a shoestring' for the past eight years? Why has his Tory government been running around with its collective thumb up its collective ass for the past three? And if this threat is so dire, why are we supposedly leaving Afghanistan in 2011? And why do we think we can defeat Islamist extremism in Afghanistan rather than on the streets of Cairo and Riyadh and Islamabad?
Last year Chatham House came out with a very clear, hard-headed analysis of the fatal flaws that doom our efforts in Afghanistan, particularly the nexus of the corrupt central government, the insurgency and the narcotics industry. Chatham House concluded all three are directly connected, that they form a "nexus." With that outlook, Peter MacKay must've sounded like a sophomoric cheerleader.