NATO was born out of a common post WWII fear for the communists. One of the foundations of the NATO is the principle of “if one is being attacked, we’re ALL attacked and are obliged to act as such” (my simplified layman’s words). What is kinda interesting that during the cold war, NATO was basically a sleeping organization, only performing a lot of exercises to prepare for an enemy that in the end never came, that in 1954 suggested it should join NATO, and that more or less stopped existing in 1991.
Interestingly, the US succeeded in putting 9/11/2001 under the above principle, and the member-states basically found themselves drawn into a fear driven unnamed-enemy “War on terror”.
It is the combination of these two facts that brought the allied forces into the war in Afghanistan. And as I stated before, other than Iraq, Afghanistan is backed by UN resolutions. Me, I am pretty convinced this is no coincidence. How could NATO member-states vote against military action in the UN if the above two facts were accepted and combined?
And this is really what it is all about with the slowly succeeding
arm-twisting diplomacy by R. Gates: people/parliaments/states are confusing the mess the the US made of Iraq under the umbrella of “war on terror” with Afghanistan, posted under the same W-O-T, basically thinking like “Listen, everything you do, we will certainly NOT engage in, given the terrible decision making that led to the fucking mess this so called war on terror is already”. In my opinion a wrong, but very understandable line of thinking.
So the question is: is one members war everyones war as in “to fight”, or is NATO a sort of flex workers agency for soldiers?
Gates is not worried about the weight of the forces. He doesn’t need NATO for that (check the US defense budget and the one-man-show in Iraq to know). He needs NATO members for their political support.