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Cablegate: Afghanistan Gets Top Billing at Munich Security Conference

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PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0054/01 0430901
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120901Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4274
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0064
RHMFIUU/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE
RHMFIUU/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRL/USDAO BERLIN GE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MUNICH 000054

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR EUR/AGS, SECDEF FOR OSD - RICHARD DOTSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MARR NATO GM AF
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN GETS TOP BILLING AT MUNICH SECURITY CONFERENCE

REF: a) MUNICH 52
b) MUNICH 17

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The need for greater Allied solidarity in meeting
the demands of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan was the main topic of
discussion at the February 8-10 Munich Security Conference (see ref
A for full overview of conference). It was not only the subject of
Secretary Gates' prepared remarks, but also the focus of a panel on

SIPDIS
the upcoming NATO Summit in Bucharest and a pre-conference event
hosted by the chair of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the
Bavarian wing of the CDU. Gates set down a marker that NATO could
not "become a two-tiered Alliance of those who are willing to fight
and those who are not." Gates, who had come to Munich straight
after the February 7-8 informal NATO defense ministerial meeting in
Vilnius, said that "such a development, with all its implications
for collective security, would effectively destroy the Alliance."
While Sen. John McCain unfortunately could not attend this year's
conference, Sen. Lieberman and the rest of the U.S. delegation gave
their German counterparts plenty of "straight talk" about the
challenges in Afghanistan and the need for Germany to join the U.S.
and other Allies in "digging deep" to do more outside the north.
END SUMMARY.

Lead-up to the conference
-------------------------

2. (SBU) Afghanistan's top billing at the February 8-10 Munich
Security Conference was ensured by the controversy unleashed in late
January by the leaking of a letter sent by Secretary Gates to
Defense Minister Jung. The letter, one of 25 that SecDef sent to
his NATO counterparts ahead of the February 7-8 NATO defense
ministerial in Vilnius, asked Germany to consider sending maneuver
forces to the south of Afghanistan. Jung, FM Steinmeier, the
Chancellery spokesmen and the defense policy spokesmen of several
political parties immediately rushed out to publicly reject the
idea, insisting that Germany would continue to focus its efforts
primarily in the north and ruling out sending combat troops to the
south. The official rejections of the SecDef request were followed
by press stories based on unnamed sources at the Chancellery and the
Foreign Ministry, claiming that the White House had been "surprised"
to learn about the SecDef letter and raising questions about whether
it was supported by President Bush.

SecDef remarks
--------------

3. (U) In his February 10 conference address, entitled "The Future
Development of Afghanistan," Secretary Gates set down a marker that
NATO could not "become a two-tiered Alliance of those who are
willing to fight and those who are not." Gates, who had come to
Munich straight after the NATO defense ministerial meeting in
Vilnius, said that "such a development, with all its implications
for collective security, would effectively destroy the Alliance."
Noting that "any theology that attempts to clearly divide civilian
and military operations" is "unrealistic," Gates also called for
NATO and the EU to find "ways to work together better" and to "share
certain roles." Gates warned, however, against a division of labor
whee some allies would opt "only for stability and ciilian
operations, forcing other Allies to bear adisproportionate share of
the fighting and dying." He emphasized the urgent need for a senior
civilian representative to coordinate all non-military international
assistance, pointing out that the current international effort adds
up to less than the sum of its parts. Gates also outlined how
violent Islamic extremism poses a direct threat to European security
and called on opinion leaders and government officials to make the
case "publicly and persistently" that success in Afghanistan is
critical in addressing this threat.

4. (U) During the discussion period, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)
emphasized that Gates had expressed not only the Administration
viewpoint on Afghanistan, but the position of the entire U.S.
government, including Congress. He predicted that whoever won the
presidential election in November would adopt the same position. He
also pointed out that the main lesson from the Iraqi surge was that
"numbers matter" in terms of the military component of a
counterinsurgency force. Lieberman underscored Gates' call for
European policymakers to make the case to their publics about why

MUNICH 00000054 002 OF 003


they could not afford to fail in Afghanistan.

5. (U) Several German parliamentarians defended the Bundeswehr's
current orientation in the north and complained about U.S.
"finger-pointing." Greens Party Leader Reinhard Buetikofer claimed
that Germany had the fourth highest number of casualties in ISAF and
noted that Germany would already be taking on a combat role by
assuming responsibility for the quick reaction force (QRF) in the
north this coming summer. Gates clarified that he was not
suggesting that Germany move its forces out of the north and agreed
that it was important that Germany continue its "excellent" work
there. Gates noted he had never singled out a particular country
for criticism. Instead, he was pointing out the obligation of the
Alliance as a whole to do more, especially in the south, where the
challenges were the greatest. The U.S. had "dug deep" in order to
send an additional 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan, mostly to the
south, and he hoped other Allies would consider doing so as well.

NATO panel discussion of Afghanistan
------------------------------------

6. (U) Afghanistan was also one of the main topics of discussion at
the February 9 panel entitled "The Atlantic Alliance: Bucharest and
Beyond," which included NATO Secretary General De Hoop Scheffer,
German Defense Minister Jung, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Jung
emphasized the extent of Germany's current contribution in
Afghanistan, noting that as commander of Regional Command North,
Germany is responsible for about one-third of the country which, he
claimed, is becoming increasingly dangerous. In this regard, he
noted that the single deadliest attack in Afghanistan in 2007
occurred in the north (Baghlan province). Jung argued that
Germany's contribution already met the requirements for Alliance
solidarity and said Germany's ability to do more, especially outside
the north, was constrained by a lack of public support and Germany's
own history.

7. (U) De Hoop Scheffer emphasized the need to fill shortfalls of
troops and equipment in ISAF and to eliminate caveats on their
deployment. Later, however, he said it would be "unfair" to say the
Germans were not doing their share. He noted that there was, in
fact, violence in the north and that the German QRF in the north
would be available for deployments in the south and elsewhere in
emergency situations.

8. (U) Sen. Graham expressed appreciation for the German
contribution in the north as well, but emphasized that it was
incumbent upon all Allies to do more given the stakes in
Afghanistan. Calling Germany "the heart and soul of NATO," Graham
said that the Alliance had been established for Germany and now
needed Germany's support against new threats. He accepted de Hoop
Scheffer's assurances that NATO was "not losing," but added that he
was "not sure we're winning." To ensure success, Allies had to send
more forces to the south, as the U.S. was doing with its temporary
deployment of 3,200 Marines.

Pre-conference debate at CSU HQ
-------------------------------

9. (SBU) At an off-the-record pre-conference lunch hosted by Erwin
Huber, chair of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian wing
of the CDU, Afghanistan was also the main topic of conversation.
Fully supporting comments made by EUR A/S Fried, who underscored the
need for additional forces in Afghanistan, Hillary Clinton foreign
policy advisor Richard Holbrooke said he was "frankly disappointed
with what the Europeans have done so far" and found the German
reaction to the SecDef letter "quite troubling." He expressed
concern that Germany did not understand that the Alliance faced a
strategic, existential threat in Afghanistan and noted that in a
counterinsurgency situation, "if the insurgents are not losing,
they're winning." He pointed out that while a new U.S.
administration -- Republican or Democratic -- was likely to seek a
closer, more cooperative relationship with Europe, this would mean
more U.S. demands to contribute to NATO operations like ISAF, not
fewer.

10. (SBU) MOD State Secretary Christian Schmidt, CSU parliamentary
Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Huber emphasized that Germany was
already the third largest troop contributor in Afghanistan and was
planning to significantly increase its involvement by tripling its

MUNICH 00000054 003 OF 003


contribution to the training of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and
taking over the QRF in the north. While the QRF would be available
to provide emergency assistance on a case-by-case basis, they argued
there was simply no public support for deploying German troops into
combat in the south. The German public did not support what the
Bundeswehr was doing now in the north, much less taking on a new
combat role. Zu Guttenberg warned that if the German government
pushed too hard on this issue, it risked the whole deployment.

11. (SBU) John McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann,
former Ambassador to NATO Robert Hunter and President of the
American Council on Germany William Drozdiak pushed back and
challenged German officials to exercise more political leadership in
making the case for the Afghanistan mission to the German public.
A/S Fried asked German officials to re-consider whether Germany's
effort in Afghanistan was really commensurate with its abilities and
the stakes there as outlined by Holbrooke and others. The Head of
the German Marshall Fund Office in Berlin, Constanze Stelzenmueller,
pointed out that many German papers have editorialized in favor of
Germany expanding its operations outside the north in the name of
Alliance solidarity. This indicated that, in fact, the German
public may be more receptive to Germany expanding the scope of
operations outside the north than politicians are giving them credit
for.

Comment
-------

12. (SBU) While Sen. John McCain unfortunately could not attend this
year's Munich Security Conference, Sen. Lieberman and the rest of
the U.S. delegation gave their German counterparts plenty of
"straight talk" about the challenges in Afghanistan and the need for
Germany to join the U.S. and other Allies in "digging deep" to do
more outside the north. It was especially helpful for the CODEL and
prominent Americans on the SecDef delegation to stress the need for
more political leadership in winning German popular support for the
mission in Afghanistan. There are signs that the public debate
spawned by the leaked SecDef letter is creating new opportunities to
strengthen popular understanding and support for this mission.

13. (U) For more information on the 44th Conference and past
conferences, visit: "http://www.securityconference.de" and
"http://munich.usconsulate.gov."

14. (U) This report has been coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

15. (U) Previous reporting from Munich is available on our SIPRNET
website at www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/munich/.

NELSON

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