What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Contradictions: NATO, Germany and Der Spiegel

I'm reacting to this affair somewhat belatedly, but it may be interesting to note, nevertheless. NATO issued the following press release last Thursday.

"A decision by NATO Defense Ministers on Alliance Counter-Narcotics strategy was taken in Budapest in October 2008, according to which ISAF can act, in concert with the Afghans, against facilities and facilitators supporting the insurgency, in the context of counternarcotics. SACEUR has been tasked to implement this decision. Accordingly, SACEUR issued general guidance as a follow-up to the Budapest Ministerial decision.

He has not, and never has, issued illegal orders. The NATO Secretary General and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe find the recent events associated with the leaking of NATO classified documents unacceptable. Our nations’ security and the safety of our servicemen and women depend on adherence to NATO security regulations and the protection of classified material. The NATO Secretary General has initiated a security investigation into this matter."

This comes in reply to this thing right here, key excerpt outlining to you the essence.
"In a classified document, which SPIEGEL has obtained, NATO's top commander, US General John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" providing NATO troops with the authority "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan (regardless of whether there is evidence linking them to insurgents - P.M.).
... the document doesn't read like a discussion paper at all. In his Jan. 5, 2009 letter to Ramms, Craddock demanded the immediate execution of his direction. "I ask, therefore, that you direct COM ISAF (an abbreviation for ISAF chief McKiernen) to continue to plan and execute this enhanced counter narcotics campaign … as amplified in this letter," Craddock wrote."
This is what happened. The resulting debate is about whether one should widen the "war" in a legal and a conceptual sense in Afghanistan. If drug dealers become military targets who can be bombed, into whose house you can put a Hellfire or two, that means they are treated as combatants. Now, if drug traders who don't deal with the insurgents at all are regarded only as criminals, then of course the case could be made that they are just criminals as such, and so their activities call for law enforcement, not an air strike or a lethal SF raid.
There you have it. Something has come up just in time to cause some rather unnecessary uproar in the world of diplomacy before the next NATO Summit, soon coming. Distraction.
For a country like Germany this is something that is as much a non-starter in a discussion as can be. As Spiegel reports in another article:
"Germany, however, has so far refused to participate in so-called "capture or kill" operations -- in other words, the targeted killing of opponents. The classified "caveats" limiting Germany's mandate in the NATO deployment state that the German government considers targeted killings conducted in cases where there was no previous attack to be inconsistent with "international law." "
Still with Spiegel here, this is what happened when German SFs had one of the perpetrators of the November 6, 2007 Baghlan bombings surrounded in a compound. For German soldiers, a "targeted killing" is not a possibility even against an insurgent.
Give this a read for a reminder. Back when I told a friend about this, all he very sensibly asked was, "Why didn't they use some nonlethal munition? Wouldn't that have been a solution?" Btw, he had some experience from Northern Ireland.


b said...

The U.S. general and ground commander in Afghanistan also rejected the Craddock letter.

So this has little to do with Germany rejecting something.

Killing anyone who is assumed, but not proven, a drug dealer is indeed a very bad idea.

The case with the Baghlan guy is a bit different too. The operation was aborted when the KSK was detected by Taliban guards before they got into position. The only chance then would have been to bomb the compound which inevitably would have killed civilians too.

Péter Marton said...


Just not to misinterpret you: so Germany rejecting something has little to do with this is what you're saying. So leaking a classified document to der Spiegel of all possible media has little to do with Germany, too. I'm not saying this is not possible. Just trying to make clear you're outright dismissing the possibility of Germany having something to do with this.

Otherwise, I myself oppose unnecessarily shooting people. Which is the point I tried to make with the nonlethal-munition-argument. Btw, aggressive counternarcotics is something I generally do not recommend, at least while COIN should be the priority.

I'm apparently not aware of details of that incident near Pul-i-Khumri known to you. So the point about nonlethal munition may not be valid in that case. It could still be valid elsewhere, though.