NATO Needs US as 'World's Policeman'; NATO Kills US Troops in Afghanistan
November 4, 2016
AntiWar.com & Sky News & The Associated Press
Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells Sky News "the world is on fire," and more American interventionism is needed to restore law and order. It was the old narrative of America as the "world's policeman." Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, a joint US-Afghan raid involving NATO airstrikes killed 26 civilians (including several children), three Afghan troops and two US soldiers.
Former NATO Chief:
We Need US as 'World's Policeman'
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(November 2, 2016) -- In a new interview with Britain's Sky News, former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen brought out the old narrative of America as the "world's policeman," but with a lot more upbeat of an attitude about it than one would generally see.
Rasmussen criticized President Obama for not being hawkish enough, saying his successor needs to be much more interventionist, and declaring "we need America as the world's policeman," adding that the US needs to "restore international law and order" through wars.
Rasmussen, who was always a relative hawk in the post but seems to have taken it to an entirely new level, set out a series of things the US needs to fix militarily, including Iraq, Syria, Libya, Russia, China, and North Korea. This of course closely mirrors recent Pentagon talk of wars in the decades to come.
The timing of his calls for extreme US bellicosity are centered on trying to influence the upcoming US election in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who has campaigned heavily on picking fights in Syria and against Russia. Rasmussen underscored this fact by declaring Donald Trump, who openly said the US cannot be the world's police, as "very dangerous for the world."
America Needs to be the World's Policeman,
Former NATO Chief Says
Dominic Waghorn, Diplomatic Editor / Sky News
(November 3, 2016) -- The man who led the West's most powerful alliance through most of the Obama administration has told Sky News that the President has not done enough to prevent conflict. Former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen says America's next commander-in-chief must do more to lead the world.
In an interview, he explained: "I think President Obama has been too reluctant to use military force or threaten to use military force to prevent conflicts in the world. "We need America as the world's policeman. We need determined American global leadership."
His criticism carries more weight in the closing days of the US election campaign, and reveals the frustration of a man tasked with running the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation during the Obama years.
Regardless of who wins the presidency in less than a week's time, Mr. Rasmussen said the US has no choice but to return to the path of greater interventionism.
"Superpowers don't get to retire. Look around you will see a world on fire. Syria torn by war and conflict. Iraq on the brink of collapse. Libya a failed state in North Africa. Russia attacking Ukraine and destabilising Eastern Europe. China flexing its muscles, the rogue state North Korea threatening nuclear attacks. "All that requires a world policeman to restore international law and order."
Mr. Rasmussen also expressed deep concerns about what Donald Trump might do to the world should he win the presidency.
"It might be very dangerous, of course," he said. "We don't know what will be the concrete policies of a Trump administration -- but if his statements were to be taken at face value, I consider it could be very dangerous for the world."
The Danish politician's aspirations for greater US global leadership are not shared by millions of Americans, it seems. They have supported a candidate who has advocated that the US intervenes less in foreign affairs and withdraws more.
On the campaign trail, Donald Trump has said America cannot carry on being the world's policeman. Whether or not Barack Obama could have done more to prevent conflicts is the focus of intense debate in Washington. Some blame him for the turmoil roiling the Middle East. Others say he has skilfully managed its fallout, and greater US involvement would only have made matters worse.
Aaron David Miller, who has advised both Republican and Democratic administrations on foreign policy, says even superpowers are limited in what they can achieve -- as America's next president will discover. He said: "(I think) the notion that Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump will somehow be able to come up with comprehensive fixes for the world's problems or America's is an illusion.
"Our constitution talks about creating a more perfect union. Nowhere in the document does it say it is the objective of the American policy to create a more perfect world.
"That does not mean we need to abandon the world. We can't. But it does mean particularly in the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan we need to take a very hard look at what American interests are, and figure out the most effective and smart way of protecting them."
26 Civilians, 2 US Troops Dead
after Afghan Raid on Taliban
Jon Gambrell and Amir Shah / Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan (November 3, 2016) -- A joint US-Afghan raid Thursday against the Taliban involving NATO airstrikes left 26 civilians, three Afghan troops and two US service members dead, Western and local officials said, as investigators worked to determine what went wrong.
NATO and the Pentagon described the Americans killed and four other US troops wounded as being part of "a train, advise and assist mission," rare combat casualties for Western forces who handed over the task of securing Afghanistan to local troops some two years ago.
Afghan officials said they were still investigating the attack and its civilian casualties, some of which may have been caused by the airstrikes called in to support Afghan and US troops under fire. Residents later carried over a dozen corpses of the dead, including children, toward the local governor's office in a show of rage a year after American forces attacked an area hospital.
NATO declined to identify the Americans killed, pending notification of their next of kin. NATO and the Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press to further clarify the American troops' mission in the area.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said four Americans were wounded.
"Our service members were doing their part to help the Afghans secure their own country while protecting our homeland from those who would do us harm," he said in a statement.
The target of the raid were two senior Taliban commanders, who were killed in the fighting along with 63 other insurgents, Kunduz police chief Gen. Qasim Jangalbagh said. He said Afghan special forces carried out the raid and that he did not have any information about NATO involvement in the assault.
Jangalbagh said 26 civilians, including members of the Taliban fighters' families, were killed in the assault.
Kunduz official Mohammad Yousf Ayoubi and parliament member Malim Chari both also told the AP that civilians were killed in the fighting, though they had few details. Dr. Mohammad Naim Mangal, the director of a Kunduz hospital, said his facility received the bodies of a dead man and a child and treated 30 people, including children, wounded in the fighting.
NATO only said it was "aware of the allegations," while the Pentagon did not immediately respond.
US Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, briefing journalists in Brussels during a teleconference, said three Afghan troops were killed in the assault. Mohammad Radmanish, a deputy spokesman at the Afghan Defense Ministry, offered the same figure.
In a later statement, Cleveland said that "friendly forces received direct fire and airstrikes were conducted to defend themselves" and an investigation was underway. He earlier described the assault as "not a common event," without elaborating.
A Taliban statement also said there were civilian casualties while claiming its fighters killed 16 US troops. The insurgents often exaggerate their battlefield successes.
Taliban fighters briefly overran the city of Kunduz, the provincial capital with the same name, in early October, a show of strength by the insurgents that also highlighted the troubles facing local Afghan forces 15 years after the US-led invasion of the country. The Taliban captured and held parts of Kunduz a year earlier as well before the city was fully liberated weeks later with the help of US airstrikes.
Those 2015 airstrikes also saw a US Air Force special operations AC-130 gunship attack a Kunduz hospital run by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, killing 42 people. Sixteen US military personnel, including a two-star general, later were disciplined for what American officials described as mistakes that led the strike. Doctors Without Borders has called the attack a war crime and demanded an independent investigation.
Yet another airstrike killing civilians could stoke anger among Afghans, and the country's former President Hamid Karzai repeatedly clashed with NATO over them, straining relations.
On Thursday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement criticizing the Taliban for using women and children as "a shield" during the raid. He also announced a local investigation had been started.
NATO's combat operations ended in Afghanistan at the end of 2014, a move that put Afghan forces in charge of the country's security. Since then, Afghan forces have suffered heavy casualties battling the Taliban, who have at times overrun provincial capitals before being pushed back. Meanwhile, NATO and US casualties have been few.
There have been at least other four combat deaths among American forces in Afghanistan in 2016. In October, a US soldier was killed by a bomb in Nangarhar province while another was shot dead by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform in Kabul. In August, an American soldier was killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan' southern Helmand province. In January, a US soldier was killed by small arms fire in Helmand.
The fight in Afghanistan -- American's longest war -- began after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as the Taliban harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The Taliban and Afghan government recently held secret talks to see if they could start peace negotiations to end the fighting, though questions remain over which faction of the insurgency is doing the talking.
Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this report.
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