Missiles over Europe

Today in Brussels, NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen offered up a new mission statement for the alliance and called on member states to stand behind a missile-defense proposal. He wants to expand the current missile-defense system to include the entire NATO area, also floating the idea that Russia should join the project as well. The proposal is designed with threats like Iran and North Korea in mind. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pleased about the idea, but spoke out against another proposal to remove NATO’s two hundred Europe-based tactical nuclear weapons. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is also at the meeting, and the king of budget slashing is worried about what European defense cuts will mean in practice. He commented that “As nations deal with their economic problems, we must guard against the hollowing out of alliance military capability by spending reductions that cut too far into muscle.” The two are in Europe for a meeting of NATO foreign and defense ministers.

General David Petraeus delivered a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai over the weekend during a flight to Kandahar. The letter, had it been signed by Karzai, would have allowed private security companies to continue their operations in Afghanistan. Washington and NATO are concerned about the effect Karzai’s ban on the entities will have on operations. Everyone expected the letter to be signed by Monday, but so far no John Hancock. So far, Karzai has given Washington assurances that private security firms can continue operating at embassies, military bases and a few other places, but official approval hasn’t come yet.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said he has a commitment from Pakistani General Ashfaq Kayani to launch an offensive against al-Qaeda in North Waziristan. Washington has long called for such an effort because, as Mullen described it, the safe haven has become “the epicenter of terrorism.”

Meanwhile, the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has donned a foreign-policy hat for the week. He was in Moscow yesterday to discuss trade and business connections with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The Governorator took a jab at Congress while giving an interview: “The United States right now is crippled by Congress not doing anything that has to do with reforming.” Schwarzenegger was in the UK today, chatting with Prime Minister David Cameron.