Conflict of loyalty

We've seen that several European partners that supported the US in Iraq and/or Afghanistan were not most reliable partners in a specific meaning. Some Americans consider this as a reason to excoriate them and claim they're poor allies or folded in face of AQ pressure.

Well, the situation is more complex.

The first really important background is that these partners were junior partners - the fate of their troops were bound to U.S. senior commanders. I cannot remember that the USA ever proved to be such a great partner that they accepted that their own troops were under control of an allied military in a combat mission. To accept this requires a lot of trust in the ability of the other officers and means basically that you give away a part of your force which shall protect your sovereignty.

The second problem behind the story is that the European people - Spanish, Germans, British, Poles, Italians - were not exposed to so much pro-war and anti-Iraq propaganda on TV and in print media as the U.S. population. This and different national interests yielded an anti-war majority in most European countries. Whenever European troops were committed to Iraq or Afghanistan the governments were not backed up by a strong majority of the population on the issue. In fact, the governments usually decided against the will of their population.

It's true that the Spanish government changed due to elections held not long after some terror strikes, but it's also true that the same government lied to its people, had no really good performance record and committed troops to a cabinet war without popular support. Spain wouldn't have been a democracy if there was no likeliness of a government change in such a situation.

Mr. Blair in the UK has ruined his political career by supporting the Iraq war against much of his cabinet and a strong majority of his people.

The German parliament recently allowed the Afghanistan combat mission (separate from the peace-keeping mission) to continue for another year. This covers the 100 special forces troops granted for Afghanistan, which were reported to not have been called upon by allied commanders since 2005. It's obviously a commitment on paper, a symbolic gesture. Even the value of this symbolic commitment is apparently enough to continue this farce to the benefit of international relations against the will of the majority of the people in Germany.

We were able to observe a distinct conflict of loyalty. Politicians that have more contact with and respect for their foreign politicians than with their own people decided to be rather loyal to foreigners than to those whose power they had lend.
In fact, the European states were too loyal to the USA in the recent conflicts, calling them disloyal is a poor joke.

This conflict of loyalty is grinding on the base of European democracies and might prove to be a long-term liability for the alliance. Our politicians should adhere to democratic traditions and not play cabinet wars against the will of our people.

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