22 November 2006

Riga mortis?

Yesterday, it was the turn of The Sun to wax indignant about "Our Boys" in Afghanistan.

"We will all rue the day if Afghanistan returns to its role as a training camp for al-Qaeda," it intoned, adding: "There are thousands of other troops from Nato countries in this cauldron of fanatical extremism." Then, raising itself to fever-pitch, it then stormed: "But along with Canada, Holland and a few others, Our Boys are the only ones actually fighting."

It concludes on a different, but equally pertinent note, declaring: "Our troops have the courage and will to fight. But they need the air cover and armour which has been promised... but has yet to be delivered."

This is all part and parcel of a build-up in publicity, prior to the annual Nato summit next week, to be held in Riga, Latvia. Can Nato avoid rigor mortis? The Washington Times asks, pun very much intended. It too refers to the reluctant combatant problem, which has actually been raised by Nato officials themselves, provoking a "vibrant" debate, not least in the Canadian newspapers.

For instance, the influential (in Canada) Toronto Globe and Mail echoes The Sun in reporting: “Europeans shirk combat in Afghanistan…”, while the IHT conveys an AP report on German chancellor Angela Merkel, who "made clear" that Berlin does not plan to send troops to southern Afghanistan.

Against that impasse, we have the Girlie Party's Liam Fox calling on Nato to "stop talking and start acting". Deploying heavily armoured clich├ęs, he wants it to "reorganise the political and military mechanisms of the Alliance to meet the emerging threats posed by a more globalised world."

Fox talks about "regional", inter-linked Nato-like organisations but it is that article in The Washington Times that has the most intriguing offer. "The answer," it says, "may be an alliance with global reach that includes other allies, Australia and New Zealand for instance, that consistently can be relied upon to be there when we need them."

It doesn't actually say it, but the implication is to ditch the Europeans. That sound an awful lot like the Anglosphere and may be part of the answer to Riga mortis.