Robert Gates: Ignorance on display
Well, apart the glaring fact that the alliance is an anti-Russian treaty, no they can't, Robert, because they are not colonial powers anymore. As a matter of history, they had plenty of experience fighting insurgent wars in Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaya and Algeria that killed hundreds of thousands, to mention only the biggest and bloodiest.
Gates has some gall to make such a statement in public, because I seem to remember scores of Spaniards, Italians, British, Dutch and Canadians dying for Uncle Sam in Afghanistan. When you have allies such as these, countries with leaders maintaining a military presence in Afghanistan despite domestic objection, some of who are even non grata in Washington (Zapatero), you keep your mouf' shut. I see that the Hague is hopping mad, and Holland has been one of the big cheerleaders for maintaining NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Perhaps rather than asking for higher body counts, Mr. Gates should consider what the hell he is trying to achieve in Afghanistan (besides revenge) in the first place.