Gerard Baker, writing in The Times of London, finds that Europe – to borrow a phrase from Margaret Thatcher – has gone wobbly. An excerpt:
After a day of briefings in Kabul, our friendly Nato hosts flew us by military transport to Herat, on the western border with Iran. We were due to spend a day touring a Nato post in the city and then fly back that evening to the capital. But the Danish plane that had taken us developed propeller problems and was grounded. As we cooled our heels outside the airfield , we waited for word of the aircraft that was supposed to come for us: a German C-130.
It soon became clear that the replacement plane was not coming. The reason, it turned out, was that the Germans would not fly in the dark. German aircraft are not permitted by their national rules to undertake night flights.
Now to those who survived the Blitz and Barbarossa, the news that today’s Luftwaffe will not fly at night in potentially hostile environments might be regarded as a welcome historical development. But when you are trying to fight a war against a ruthless band of terrorists who operate 24/7, never pausing to consider the dangers of venturing out in the dark, limiting yourself to daytime operations is a little constraining.
The Germans are not alone. Many of the European nations with forces in Afghanistan are operating under similarly ludicrous restrictions. Though their soldiers and airmen are highly capable and indeed eager to take the fight to the Taleban, their governments are desperately fearful of the public reaction should their soldiers suffer significant casualties. They don’t think that their voters will stomach it. And the tragedy is, they are probably right.
Read it all here.
[HT: Real Clear Politics ]