18 October, 2006

The Vikings are not coming.

After France, it is Norway's turn to refuse to send any more troops to Afghanistan, in addition to the 518 already there. Reuters quotes the Norwegian foreign minister as saying they are too stretched and,

The Norwegian contribution [to Afghanistan] will be based on an overall assessment of needs and capacities, and the obligations we have assumed linked to other current international operations and a possible future U.N. operation in Sudan/Darfur.
Really? In fact, the promised future Norwegian commitment to Darfur is 170 engineers and transport specialists.

The days of the warrior Vikings are long gone and the Norwegian army now consists of 7,500 civilian employees and conscripts, of which the total deployed abroad, as of 19th September, 2006, is only 624. One of the army's principal tasks is to defend their borders against Russia; that will have the lights burning late in the Kremlin should Putin ever fancy taking Oslo.

Norway is just another example of how the majority of NATO members are having a free ride at the expense of the USA, Canada and the UK. NATO's rationale was always to defend Europe from a Soviet invasion. With that threat gone, it is surely time to re-assess the alliance's utility. The lesson from the attitudes of member states to Afghanistan is that NATO no longer serves any useful purpose and needs to be replaced by an alliance of countries willing to contribute military forces to NATO operations undertaken in the defence of western interests.

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