There are certain parties, Vladimir Putin and Gerhard Schröder among them, who would like to see the trans-Atlantic alliance between the United States and the European Union dismantled and shattered. Unfortunately, it looks like the U.S. Secretary of Defense is only just too happy to assist them. The outrageous comments made by Robert Gates in the Los Angeles Times about British, Canadian, and Dutch troops not being up to the cut to fight insurgency in Afghanistan sets a new standard for American stupidity in foreign policy (and believe me, that’s a tough standard to set).
As a Canadian citizen living in London, I can say that there is great, unrestrained admiration for the men and women serving in the British armed forces, who have won battle after battle abroad despite substandard equipment and a lack of support from the current government. Whether or not Europeans support the engagement of these troops abroad, the crass and divisive statements from Gates are bound to inspire deep resentment.This is a gift to all those who seek to block international cooperation with the United States. What Gates said is baseless, offensive, disingenuous, and, most important of all, unforgivably stupid. At a moment in which trans-Atlantic cooperation is more important than ever, we have a U.S. official flushing it down the toilet – only the latest gesture in a long string of lost opportunities and mishandled relationships.All this begs the question: When is the United States going to get back to some form of competent leadership? We are all waiting.