Leadership: December 13, 2001

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Allies Unhappy With U.S. Unilateral Leadership- European allies are increasingly unhappy with the way the US is "leading" the "alliance" against terrorism. In effect, the US is doing whatever it wants, and is keeping a tight rein on what the Europeans do. There are several aspects to this. The Europeans complain that the US does not "consult" with them (i.e., seek their approval or permission); the US sees no real reason why it should do so and notes that such consultations in the Kosovo War limited the target list and prolonged the war. The US notes that the Europeans have simply not deployed the kind of high-tech military needed to conduct the bombing campaign, and has fallen behind on its own announced plans to catch up and buy stockpiles of precision-guided weapons. European conservatives are calling for more military spending in order to develop the kind of forces that could participate in a future US military operation, saying that if the US cannot utilize European forces it will not have to consult European governments. European leftists, however, note that the US has shown an increasing trend toward unilateral military moves. European voters are interested in seeing their countries participate in the war on terror and are blaming their own governments for the failure to modernize their armed forces. The US has, in effect, delegated the duties of peacekeeping and humanitarian relief to the Europeans and kept most of the combat operations to itself (and a handful of British commandoes). While small elite European units are starting to arrive and can be expected to get in on the fight, the US has (in effect) followed its own war plan and told the Europeans to catch up when they can. Even worse, complain the Europeans, the US has delayed the deployment of European peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, saying it cannot have its war plan disrupted by rescuing European units which get into trouble. One French official complained that "The US planned the menu and prepared the food, then told us to wash the dishes." The US notes that even after the 11 September attacks, the Europeans have slowed down their plans to field a rapid reaction force due to a lack of budgets. The US also notes that the planned European Rapid Reaction Force is capable of a peacekeeping mission, and is not designed to actually fight a war.--Stephen V Cole


 


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