NATO-SCO: the Missing Dialogue


NATO’s multifaceted outreach initiatives

NATO has developed numerous successful initiatives that have helped reinforce global stability and enhance reciprocal confidence among various geopolitical actors. In addition to the usual relations of normal co-operation with the United Nations Organisation and the European Union, NATO launched the following structured initiatives. The first measure, after the disbandment of the former Warsaw Pact, was the “North Atlantic Council in Co-operation” (NACC), which was established in 1991 and involving all allied, neutral and former enemy countries. In 1997 this became the “Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council”, in which the “Partnership for Peace” (PfP) initiative, launched in 1994, proved to be extremely successful. Over the years the number of the partner countries diminished as they were progressively admitted into the Alliance as full members.

In 1994 another important initiative involved seven countries of the southern Mediterranean shore: Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Three years later, in 1997, two new Councils brought together the two fundamental successors of the Soviet Union: the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) later re-founded in Rome1 in 2002, and the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

In 2004 the “Istanbul Co-operation Initiative” (ICI) was established between the Alliance and some Persian Gulf countries: the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain. Three years later a sort of “Global Partnership” linked some like-minded countries (Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) with NATO. The most recent initiative is the “NATO-Georgia Commission”, which was born in the summer of 2008, in the aftermath of the war in the Caucasus.

Looking at all these initiatives, we can state that NATO is second to no other international organisation for dialogue and co-operation with countries outside its own area.

But surprisingly Asia is almost completely neglected by the NATO’s outreach initiatives. Surprising because Asia is the only continent where:

– the Second World War is effectively still in progress, since the direct consequences of that conflict never really ended (Arab-Israeli conflict, India-Pakistan conflict, Korean problem,…),

– the greatest challenges for the world’s security are allocated (Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, piracy, proliferation of WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction,…),

– the biggest sources of energy are located (I am thinking of Central Asia and the Gulf region).

Although parts of the “Yellow continent” are somewhat interested in certain NATO’s initiatives2, the most sensitive portion of Asia (China and India) still remains uncovered. In other words, the most interesting and potentially successful dialogue has yet to be launched: a dialogue with SCO, the “Shanghai Co-operation Organisation”, a field that would be extremely promising.

SCO: the reasons of its importance

Founded in 1996 as the “Shanghai Five”, it evolved into the SCO in 2001 inspiring itself to the so-called “spirit of Shanghai” (reciprocal confidence, relations of good neighbourliness, co-operation in the political, economic, cultural, scientific fields…). Its goal is to counter the “three evils” (Islamic terrorism, religious extremism and separatism). The member countries are Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghizstan and Tajikistan3, while the observer countries are currently Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran. In addition, at the Ekaterinburg Summit4 in 2009, Sri Lanka and Belarus have been accepted as “dialogue partner countries”. Between 2004 and 2006 the SCO established important bodies, such as the Secretariat General in Beijing (2004), the RATS (Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure) at Tashkent (2004), the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group (2004), the Inter-banking consortium (2005) for the enhancement of the investments, a Business Council (2006) for the economic co-operation and the SCO Forum (2006) for the scientific co-operation among the National Centers of Research of the member countries.

It is important to underline that this organisation is formed by two permanent members of the UN Security Council and at the same time two important G8 member countries (Russia and China), two nuclear powers among the member states (again Russia and China) and other three nuclear powers among the observer countries (India, Pakistan and Iran5), two among the most populated countries in the world (China and India), the two major expanding economies (India and China again), three out of the four members of BRICs (Brasil, Russia, India and China), the major producers and consumers of energy (China and India), a surface of 38 million square kilometers and more than 3 billion inhabitants (60% of the entire world’s population). It is clear that a reality like the SCO cannot and must not be underestimated or, worse, ignored.

The advantages of a NATO-SCO dialogue

The reasons for a possible and hopeful Dialogue between NATO and the SCO, besides the fact that dialogue is by definition positive and promising, is that at a global level SCO has become one of the most representative regional organisations. And we cannot say that NATO has little in common with SCO, because the participation of Russia and the Central Asian republics in the EAPC demonstrates the contrary. From this point of view SCO and NATO have a huge portion of “territorial overlapping”.

A dialogue between NATO and SCO, while it wouldn’t have clear disadvantages, would imply several advantages from many points of view. As far as the short term advantages is concerned, dialogue facilitates problem solving. In addition, it would be coherent with the letter and spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, which calls for the creation of regional and sub-regional organisations, mutually reinforcing and interlocking, for the general benefit of the security. Reciprocal knowledge of West and East, the transparency and the confidence would also benefit from such a dialogue. Other short- or medium-term advantages could lie in the information exchange about common and global threats like terrorism and extremism, with the possibility of increasing the Eurasian stability.

Longer-term advantages of such a dialogue could be the possible solution of the long-lasting problem of the UNSC reform, a solution which lies more in the role of the international organisations rather than in that of the national states6.

Additional advantages could possibly lie in developing useful talks about the reduction of conventional and strategic armaments on the Asiatic continent, modelled on the talks which helped end the Cold War in Europe, with a view to enhancing the world’s security and stability, all indivisible goods. It is true that currently SCO doesn’t deal with such matters, but the benefits of the dialogue in general (and of a NATO-SCO dialogue in particular) are unpredictable, so perhaps the security aspect could also be touched upon.

Last but not least, a tremendous advantage of a NATO-SCO dialogue will be the possibility of contributing to a proper solution of the Afghan crisis and to a proper exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Up to now, the international community has tried to solve the Afghan dilemma in a way that recalls an old motto facetiously attributed to the Atlantic Alliance: “No Action, Talk Only”. The examples of never-ending and nothing-achieving conferences about Afghanistan are a sad decade-long story which began in Bonn in 2001 and has not yet finished7. Sometimes the international community succeeded in obtaining the minimal result with the maximum effort, like in late March 2009, when two parallel, analogous conferences with the same aim were organised in a timeframe of a few hours in different locations and with different participants: SCO in Moscow, NATO and the UN in The Hague. If at that time a serious dialogue between NATO and SCO had already been established, such waste of time, money and efforts could have been spared.

After the hopeful implementation of a possible NATO-SCO dialogue, SCO could find the best way to fuel its SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group and to help inserting Afghanistan in the regional social, energy and economic system. Not only China and Russia, but the whole SCO has a deep interest in achieving stability in the region surrounding Afghanistan. NATO and SCO, in other words, should stop ignoring each other, waiting for the other organisation to take the first step. A deep and structured co-operation between NATO and SCO is needed now.

Afghanistan crisis: the mistakes of yesterday and today

Historically, many mistakes have been made by the West in Afghanistan. Let me mention just a few. The first was in the 19th century during the so-called “Great Game” between Russian and British Empires, the result of which was a tribal Afghanistan, with its ethnic groups split among themselves by international borders that proved and continue to prove every day to be wrong and unmanageable. In fact, the “Durand line” of 1893 between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a not well-defined line 2430 kilometers long, divides millions of Pashtun people in one country from millions in the other.

The second mistake was committed by the USA in mid-1979, when it decided to draw the USSR into the Afghan trap. The aim of the White House was to transform Afghanistan in a Soviet Vietnam; this is exactly what happened, but with unforeseen consequences8.

The third mistake was carried out by Soviet Union when it decided to invade Afghanistan in December 1979, causing its own suicide ten years later. The Soviet aggression, officially called “Military assistance to the Afghan government”, employed 620000 soldiers (with a daily presence between 80000 and 104000), and resulted in the lost, in 110 months, of 13833 dead, 53753 injured and 415932 sick. One hundred and eighteen aircraft, 333 helicopters, 147 tanks and 14331 vehicles were also lost.

The fourth mistake was the US decision to support the Afghan insurgency by financing, among others, Osama bin Laden, the future worst enemy of USA. The fifth mistake was the US decision to intervene militarily in Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, countering a non-conventional threat with conventional means9.

A sixth mistake occurred in mid-November 2001, when the Bush administration permitted to the Pakistani transport aviation to evacuate to Pakistan hundreds of insurgents surrounded in Kunduz, who were later re-employed as terrorists against the Coalition. At that time the government of India officially protested the operation, nicknamed “Evil Lift”, fearing a possible re-employment of those terrorists in Kashmir. But they found refuge in the Pakistan FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Area, from where they continue to organise the insurgency in Afghanistan today. The seventh mistake, similar to the previous one, took place in December 2001, when the USA renounced employing land forces to cut the way to hundreds of Talibans (included Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden) in Tora Bora, permitting them to escape to Pakistan.

The eight mistake was once again committed by the USA, this time in 2003, when huge financial and human resources were diverted from the Afghan reconstruction to the invasion of Iraq. Later Iraq, which during the Saddam regime was immune from the terrorist threat, became an attraction for terrorists coming from all over the world and a training field for the insurgency in Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, the escalation of violence in Afghanistan after 2006 (suicide bombers, car-bombs, roadside bombs, improvised explosive devices, IED including the lethal explosive forged projectiles EFP…) employs technology and expertise from the Iraqi insurgency.

The ninth mistake, regarding the burden-sharing among International Organisations, was the UN decision to pursue the struggle against narco-traffic without having the means, with the result that opium production increased tremendously and still continues to increase. Only recently the UN, admitting its impotence, delegated that specific, extremely difficult task to NATO. A task that could be much better performed in a situation of regional co-operation with the countries surrounding Afghanistan.

This leads to the tenth mistake, geopolitical in nature, which is already underway but still avoidable. If the international community considers the crisis at a regional level, the solution will be affordable. If not, we will repeat the same mistake by the Americans in Vietnam. The USA actually showed a certain reluctance to consider Indochina as a single strategic theater. Despite President Eisenhower’s willingness to consider the defense of Laos as essential for that of Vietnam, the opposite vision unfortunately prevailed. In the end, the opinion that won out was that of McGeorge Bundy, a Republican appointed by the Democratic President J.F. Kennedy as counsellor for the national security, who convinced Kennedy to consider Vietnam as a stand-alone country. As a consequence, half a million American soldiers were fighting for a stalemate in Vietnam, a goal rendered impossible by enemy bases located in Cambodia and by enemy LOCs10 throughout Laos. The analogy with ISAF soldiers, today employed for the stabilisation of Afghanistan by fighting Talibans who have their bases in Pakistan and LOCs through FATA11 is surprising and disturbing.

Although no one party can be blamed for the aforementioned and not comprehensive list of mistakes of the past, we should learn from centuries of history in order not to repeat them today.

Regionalising the Afghan crisis

Today it is universally accepted that the solution of the Afghan crisis can be achieved only with a “regional” approach. The NATO-SCO dialogue can dramatically contribute to this regional solution, for the following reasons:

– stabilising Afghanistan is a top priority for all SCO countries (be they full-members or observers) not less than for NATO,

– Russia and China have both a great interest in the solution of that crisis, because if it is not resolved, the instability and the threat of the Islamic extremism would spread into Southern Russia, Central Asia and western China, with particular reference to Xinjiang,

– NATO cannot stay in Kabul forever and one day it will certainly exit Afghanistan, while SCO and its member (and observer) countries are and will be part of the regional geography. Since SCO nations share among them strong security and economic concerns that do not diverge from NATO’s, there is a common interest upon which to build a constructive dialogue.

The UN, therefore, having within the Security Council the five biggest countries of both NATO and SCO, could launch a sort of “Afghan relay race” between the two Organisations within a reasonably short-medium timeframe, contemporaneously with the State-building process in Kabul.

As a consequence of the above, the possible courses of action are mainly four: leaving Afghanistan immediately, continuing along current lines, afghanisation, and regionalisation. Let’s briefly consider each option.

Leaving Afghanistan immediately could have these possible consequences:

– Al Qaeda would proclaim victory and mediatically exploit the fact,

– Saudi Arabia would feel herself authorised to increase everywhere in the area (above all in Pakistan) the diffusion of Wahabi madrassas (Coranic schools) which teach extremist behaviours,

– in Pakistan the army would become the armed wing of Wahabism, with a possible nuclear struggle with India,

– India would face the worst threat of its history,

– Iran (another country with nuclear capabilities) would feel extremely uncomfortable with two extremist Sunni regimes at its borders (Pakistan and Afghanistan),

– between Pakistan and Afghanistan an autonomous (or independent) Pashtunistan could emerge,

– China, who urgently feels the threat of Islam in Xinjiang, would close the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan and should promote a new pact between Talibans and Pakistan,

– opium production and drug trafficking towards China, Central Asia, Russia, Europe and the rest of the world would increase.

In consideration of these possible, extremely bad results, this option does not appear feasible.

Another option is continuing as we are doing today, trying to slowly and partially increase the military commitment under the initiative of the enemy. This would be extremely time- and resources- consuming. The war could last decades (Secretary of Defense Robert Gates seems already to be prepared for this, when he stated: “This is an ideological war, and the last ideological war we fought (the cold war) lasted 45 years”. Since it doesn’t give any guarantee of success, neither is this option feasible.

The option of “Afghanisation” (giving to the Afghan government and people the responsibility of their own country, as in the case of “Vietnamisation” in Vietnam) is a difficult option, since the country’s institutions are still too weak. Surprisingly, this solution could have worked in 2001, immediately after the victory of the Northern Alliance helped by the US-UK aerial campaign and the regime change in Kabul. Today, after the awful example given by the last presidential elections, it is too late. This option too, since the country appears very far from being ready to walk alone, poses enormous risks.

Regionalizing the crisis remains the better and the most feasible course of action. The best solution would be to responsabilise the local regional organisations, first of all SCO, since all countries surrounding Afghanistan are either full-members or observers of that Organisation.

A not-only-military strategy

There is a belief that the Afghanistan crisis could be solved through a military “surge”, like in Iraq, where the overall situation is currently under control. This belief doesn’t take into account that the positive change of situation in Iraq didn’t depend on the military surge, which was not crucial, but on the fact that many Sunni tribes were convinced (by financial means) to support the Coalition rather than the insurgency.

In Afghanistan, the possible, positive results of a military surge are uncertain and questionable, and also in case of success, the main result would be the transfer of the Taliban forces to Pakistan, with destabilising effects on that country.

On the other hand, the negative results of the surge would be certain and unquestionable:

– more targets for the guerrilla,

– more SIGACTS (significant activities, in other words: combat episodes). SIGACT will increase simply because troops will increase, but it will be difficult to explain to the Western public opinion that the surge doesn’t imply a reduction of SIGACTS,

– more casualties for the Coalition,

– more “national caveats”, a negative phenomenon that splits the NATO member countries between “fighters” and “logistics suppliers” and undermines the Alliance’s cohesion,

– more “post-traumatic stress disorder” cases12,

– more cases of suicide among soldiers13,

– more hatred in Afghanistan against the “foreign occupiers”,

– more money needed; the Pentagon foresees an additional employment of $ 7,3 billions, to be paid by a country facing a deep financial crisis,

– more possibilities to lose the battle on the “internal front”, since Western governments and public opinions don’t see results (the fall of the Dutch government of. Mr. Balkenende on 20th February 2010 because of internal disagreements about the mission in Afghanistan, is not a promising indicator),

– more possibilities to lose the Afghan public opinion as well (opinion polls show a worsening trend),

-impossibility, for the Western soldiers, to prevail on jihadist guerrillas. In fact, while the jihadist fighter is imbued of ideology and seeks martyrdom, the Western soldier is moderate; the first one operates at home, while the second is thousands of miles from home, the first loves the death and the second loves life, welfare and family. In addition, the first doesn’t change, while the other has to be frequently rotated. The first is rogue, cruel and without rules, while the second is a good soldier constrained by the Rules of Engagement, RoEs.

In light of the above, and keeping in mind that NATO is not there to remain forever, the following exit strategy from Afghanistan could be envisaged:

– UNSC should authorise a sort of “relay race” between NATO and SCO in Afghanistan,

– while SCO nations contribute to securing the borders of Afghanistan, thus helping to reduce the illegal flow of drugs, the USA and NATO should gravitate toward the following tasks:

– increase the activities of governance and development,

– combat the corruption,

– discuss and negotiate with moderate movements, even if they are Talibans,

– progressively and unilaterally reduce the military presence, a move which will eliminate any call to jihad,

– continue training the Afghan National Security Forces, ANSF (both Afghan National Army, ANA and Afghan National Police, ANP) in order to achieve credible, autonomous and self-sustaining Afghan forces,

– increase intelligence activities,

– increase covert operations by Special Forces and Special Operations Forces able to exploit those intelligence,

– accurately employ the air power, paying particular attention to avoiding collateral damages14,

– help the bordering risky countries (mainly Pakistan) in effectively combating terrorism and extremism.

On the contrary, increasing the number of conventional troops in order to fight against a non-conventional enemy, without having at disposal safe LOCs, doesn’t give any possibility of success.

Summing up, the recommendation that could be made to the UN is to decide for a “relay-race” between NATO and SCO as soon as possible. Recommendations to NATO and US leadership include:

– consider the crisis as a regional one and Afghanistan and Pakistan as a single entity15,

– launch as soon as possible a deep and structured co-operation with SCO, that could comprise initially the exchange of liaison teams, exchange of visits, participation of observers at the main events (Summit meetings, exercises[16],…) and then in a structured NATO-SCO Council based on a proper Charter17,

– implement the above mentioned strategy,

– communicate properly, using correct indicators rather than old stereotypes. Here are some examples:

Stop proclaiming “In Afghanistan we are winning, because we spent billions of US dollars and are employing 60.000 soldiers”, as UN and NATO speakers sometimes say during press conferences. Victories are measurable with indicators other than money and troops, which are inputs, not outputs and serve to measure efforts, not results. It would be better to underline the percentage of the Afghan population who feels free from Talibans, drug traffickers, and corrupted officials.

Stop proclaiming “In Afghanistan we are winning, because 25% of villages are firmly under Government’s control”. This means that the remaining 75% is not.

Stop proclaiming “In Afghanistan we are winning, because in the last 3 months X insurgents have been killed during Y combat episodes, all won by the Coalition”. No surprise if the Coalition wins the single combat episodes, given the difference in military equipment and skill. But if we want to know who has the initiative, it would be better to investigate who shot the first bullet.

Stop proclaiming “In Afghanistan we are winning, because in the last six months X roadside bombs have exploded, Y% less in comparison with the previous period”. A better indicator would be the percentage of Improvised Explosive Devices, IED, neutralised by our troops and the percentage of IEDs neutralised thanks to the tips of the local population. This will show us which part is receiving the support of the population.

Stop proclaiming “In Afghanistan we are winning because, in the last month, X Afghan insurgents have been killed in Pakistan territory by UAV18 attacks”. These data are not significant if we don’t consider the “collateral damages”, which provoke the increase of anti-Americanism and anti-Western feelings.

Stop proclaiming “In Afghanistan and Pakistan we are winning, because the USA hands over on a monthly basis 120 million US dollars in Coalition Support Funds to the Pakistani Government, in order to help it in combating Talibans in the FATA” Paying is not enough. One must also control how the money is spent. It would be better to know the percentage of Coalition Support Funds wasted because of corruption or employed to combat India rather than Talibans.

Some recommendations can also be made to NATO member countries, starting from reducing and possibly abolishing national caveats: they hinder the action of the Force Commander on the field, don’t allow for the mission to be accomplished, and undermine the Alliance’s cohesion. NATO countries should also stop planning the composition of national military instruments as during the Cold War. The geopolitical situation has changed, and so the enemy. The enemies of today cannot be defeated with traditional, conventional weapon systems (aircraft, vessels, tanks, artillery, infantry). The best tool in order to defeat the enemies of today are Intelligence, Special Forces, SF and Special Operation Forces, SOF. If the national military balances will foresee less main battle tanks and more Special Forces, the possibilities to defeat the enemy will be higher. And we will also save money. As a matter of comparison, consider that the cost of a SOF ground company is about 13 million €. A Eurofighter aircraft (77 million €) costs the same of 6 SOF ground companies. An A-400 transport aircraft (100 million €) costs the same of 9 SOF ground companies and a Fremm19 frigate (342 million €) costs the same as 30 SOF ground companies. But Eurofighters, A-400s and Fremms are not at all useful to combat and defeat terrorists.

The missing Agency

In conclusion, the step is to create useful confidence building measures between the two organisations. This will facilitate a sort of “division of labour” that will help give Afghanistan the progressive, full responsibility of its own security, along with the steady admission of the country into a virtuous circuit of regional investments and economic development, also oriented to the possible transit of pipelines. But keeping in mind that stabilising Afghanistan cannot be done using military means alone, the reconstruction must have also other, not less important, civilian components such as police, judiciary, medical, and administrative bodies. We cannot go on with the current unfortunate system of the “wrong PRTs”. The PRT concept is not bad in principle: fundamentally it is correct. What has proved to be wrong, however, is its implementation, which has configured a sort of “eleventh historical mistake”, no lighter or less dangerous than the other ten.

We can still remember that immediately after the end of the Cold War, facing the problem of restructuring the new “NATO’s Force Structure”, our first concern was to avoid the worst possible mistake: the so-called “nationalisation of the Defense”, as was the case in the second half of the last century.

We succeeded in that effort, and the results have been good and satisfactory: new forces and commands were established, streamlined, light, multinational and quickly deployable. Later, in Afghanistan, implementing a series of PRTs on a national basis, provided by single member States who have different and diverging agendas, responding to their own capital rather than to the Force Commander in theater, we repeated the old, bad mistake of “nationalisation”.

The PRTs, instead, should be ready in a congruous number at peacetime, with earmarked personnel chosen on the basis of their experience and with the principle of multinationality, with materials, vehicles, communication means, logistical support and everything else ready to be moved and immediately deployed to the concerned theater of operations, in any continent.

Where to allocate such skeleton-PRTs? For example within an already existing or newly established agency at the UN level. The UN has an efficient logistical base located near Brindisi, Italy, which could be a good solution. Or, if the UN prefers to delegate the task to a regional organisation, it could be located at the NATO level, or within something pertaining to the European Union, or SCO or all of them. The geographical location is less important than the concept. And the concept is: implement this agency as soon as possible, launch the NATO-SCO dialogue now!

Longitude – The Italian Monthly of Foreign Affairs, n. 1

[1] At the summit of Pratica di Mare, near Rome, in May 2002, the summit hosted by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi launched a newly established NATO-Russia Council which privileged a new spirit of co-operation “at 20”, and not anymore “at 19 plus 1” as it was in the past.

[2] The already mentioned EAPC which involves Russia and the Central Asian republics, the ICI with the Gulf countries and the Global Partnership with Japan and South Korea.

[3] Since 2007, also Turkmenistan, despite its “permanent neutrality status”, participates in the SCO Summits.

[4] The Shanghai Group, later SCO, holds regular yearly Summit meetings at the level of Heads of State and government, hosted by member countries. Those meetings took place at Shanghai (1996), Moscow (1997), Almaty (1998), Bishkek (1999), Dushanbe (2000), Shanghai (2001), St. Petersburg (2002), Bishkek (2003), Tashkent (2004), Astana (2005), Shanghai (2006), (2007), Dushanbe (2008) and Ekaterinburg (2009). The 2010 Summit is foreseen at Tashkent.

[5] Let’s consider Iran a nuclear power, since nobody seems able to reverse the trend wanted by the Islamic theocracy of Tehran).

[6] Without going into details, there is a clear trend in the current Geopolitics, according to which the role of the national States is progressively decreasing, while the role of the International Organisations is steadily increasing. The national State, in fact, is trying to survive under the pressure of globalisation, but it cannot avoid to progressively give portions of sovereignty to the International Organisations (examples: common markets, free trade zones, common currency, predominance of the communitarian laws on the national laws, multinational military forces,…). According to this unavoidable trend, the International Organisations could possibly substitute the national States within the UNSC.

[7] Just to recall some of those conferences and summits without results, let’s remind Bonn 2001, Tokyo, Oslo, Kabul 2002, Kabul 2005, London 2006, Rome, Kabul 2007, Bucharest, Berlin, Yssik Kul, Paris, Dushanbe, Maastricht 2008, London, Rome, Moscow, The Hague, Strasburg-Kehl, Washington, Tehran, Ekaterinburg, Trieste, Bruxelles, Paris 2009 and London 2010.

[8] Robert Gates, former CIA director and current Secretary of Defense, revealed in his memories (“From the shadows”) that the American initiative for Afghanistan, inspired by the counsellor for the national security Zbignew Brzezinski (as he declared in 1988 to “Nouvel Observateur”), was authorised by President Jimmy Carter on July 3rd, 1979, six months before the Soviet invasion.

[9] Surprisingly enough, one of the risks was to become victims of antiaircraft “Stinger” missiles provided by CIA to the Afghan anti-Soviet guerrilla twenty years before.

[10] Lines of Communication.

[11] Federally Administered Tribal Area.

[12] 300.000 American soldiers are already suffering this disease and the daily consumption of psycho-pharmaceuticals is increasing.

[13] In the American Army the cases are constantly increasing since 2006; in 2008 the cases have been 128.

[14] Out of the 2.118 civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2008, those who lost their lives for “collateral damages” caused by the Coalition and Afghan forces, have been 552.

[15] Dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan as “AFPAK” and appointing a Special Envoy of the White House to AFPAK, as President Obama did, are signs in the right direction.

[16] Although SCO doesn’t have a military structure comparable with that of NATO, the military forces of its member nations carry out yearly military exercises mainly aimed at enhancing anti-terrorism capabilities. Worth mentioning are the exercises called “Peace Mission” in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 and the exercises “Co-operation” in 2003, “Vostok Antiterror” in 2005 and “Volgograd Antiterror” in 2008.

[17] The documents at the basis of already functioning bodies like the NATO-Russia Council or the NATO-Ukraine Commission could be good examples.

[18] Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

[19] Fregata Europea Multi Missione, or European Multi-Mission Frigate.