Gates: Afghanistan will require "patience"
~ First Halifax International Security Forum launches; MacKay, zu Guttenberg promote cooperation in facing global security concerns ~
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Gates: Afghanistan will require "patience"
~ First Halifax International Security Forum launches; MacKay, zu Guttenberg promote cooperation in facing global concerns~
HALIFAX, Canada (November 20, 2009) - In opening remarks Friday at the first HalifaxInternational Security Forum, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called for"patience" on dealing with Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan will require more commitment, more sacrifice, andmore patience from the community of free nations," Gates told 300 high-level participantsat Halifax Forum. The Halifax International Security Forum is organized by theGerman Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) with the Government of Canada,the Department of National Defence, and the Atlantic Canada OpportunitiesAgency.
In his remarks, Gates emphasized the importance of addressingsecurity challenges in North America, echoing U.S. President Barack Obama'scall for "sustained engagement" at the recent Summit of the Americas conferencein Trinidad and Tobago.
Gates said that the Pentagon "is prepared to provide militarywhere needed and where appropriate," citing examples of U.S. cooperation withMexico, Central America, and the Caribbean to counter drug trafficking. "Not only is it possible, but it isimperative that we take on these shared threats in a way that is respectful tohuman rights and human dignity," Gates said. "Strong human rights programs arevital in conducting military responses in complex environments."
Gates was introduced by Peter MacKay, the Canadian Minister ofNational Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway. MacKay is also a nativeNova Scotian.
MacKay, influenced by his recent trip to Afghanistan, pointed outthat the world relies on a relatively few number of soldiers for the protectionof the many people in the world. "NATO will not be judged by Afghanistan today, but by the challengesahead," MacKay said. "It's not about a Strategic Concept, it's about astrategic truth."
The opening speeches were followed by a panel that pointed out howtransatlantic security is increasingly indistinguishable from global security.Newly installed German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenbergsaid the world faces the most challenging security environment since the end ofthe Cold War.
In meeting those challenges, zu Guttenberg noted that institutionalchange is needed. "The transformation of the alliance [NATO] is a continuousprocess," he said. "Change is the solution."
As NATO works on a new Strategic Concept, reforming the internalstructure of NATO is vital, he said. "New procedures for funding operations have to be developed," zuGuttenberg said. "Thus, the alliance would preserve its transatlanticpartnership and be able to respond to the global challenges of today."
The conference kicked off when Craig Kennedy, president of theGerman Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), which organized the forum,welcomed the delegates.
"The Halifax Forum is a world class event," Kennedy said. "The tough issues that this conferencewill address, the first-rate speakers for every panel, and the extraordinarygroup of participants underscore the global nature of the transatlanticpartnership."
"Halifax will be a venue where we can come together to get itright," MacKay later added.
TheHalifax International Security Forum is a high-level meeting that bringstogether leaders from around the world in politics, military, government,business, academia, and media. Over three days, more than 300 participants takepart in an intellectual, interactive exchange on pressing strategic issues. TheHalifax International Security Forum provides a unique venue forthought-leaders and policymakers to discuss such issues as nuclearproliferation, Arctic security, the conflict in Afghanistan, and maritimesecurity.
TheHalifax International Security Forum is organized by the German Marshall Fundof the United States (www.gmfus.org) in cooperation with the Government ofCanada, the Department of National Defence, and the Atlantic CanadaOpportunities Agency. This major international conference - the first of itskind in North America - is being held November 20-22, 2009, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.