Thursday, March 01, 2007

What We Are Dealing With: Allies Dropping the Ball in Afghanistan

A month ago, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice convened a meeting of NATO in Brussels to announce a pledge of $10.6 B in aid to Afghanistan and to encourage our allies to meet their previous financial commitments, up their financial commitments, increase their commitment of troops or to at least remove restrictions on the use of their troops in areas of the country where fighting is actually going on. The response has been largely crickets. As Bret Stephens wrote in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal:

In recent weeks, we've been reminded once again just how cheap those promises were. On Thursday, St├ęphane Dion, who leads Canada's Liberal Party, announced that as prime minister he would bring an end to the country's 2,500-strong military commitment to southern Afghanistan. "Neither Canada, NATO nor the Americans anticipated how violent and dangerous Kandahar would become in 2006," he said, adding that the proper role for Canadian forces is "to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people."

Also in recent weeks, the Italian government of Romano Prodi briefly collapsed after it was unable to muster the votes to approve the enlargement of a U.S. Army base in Vicenza along with the continuance of Italy's 2,000-man deployment in Afghanistan. George W. Bush has had to plead publicly with NATO nations to increase their troop commitments and -- would it be too much to ask? -- deploy them in areas where they are likely to see combat. To make up for the NATO shortfall, Britain is sending in another 1,400 soldiers, while the U.S. is extending the tour of the Tenth Mountain Infantry Brigade and sending in troops from the 82nd Airborne.

It is a statistical certainty that American and British soldiers will pay a price in blood this spring because their French, Spanish, Italian, German and -- if Mr. Dion has his way -- Canadian counterparts mean to keep their moral slates clean. A century ago that would have been a mark of martial and national dishonor, of "letting the side down." Today, it is a concession to the political reality that most NATO governments cannot muster political support for anything except a "peace mission" in Afghanistan. "If you are non-U.S., implicitly there is a political calculus," says a senior U.S. Army officer about his NATO colleagues. "You are looking over your shoulder to Ottawa. You're asking: 'Will getting five killed-in-action mean a phone call about the wisdom of this particular operation?'"

Indeed, only the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Canada engage in actual combat operations in Afghanistan. There are restrictions on the deployment of ISAF troops from the other 22 coalition countries about deployment in combat capacities.

At a time when the MSM drumbeat on Afghanistan is exclusively limited to misleading stories about "resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda" we hear precious little about the current ISAF offensive which has, in part, been responsible for more contact with the enemy. We also hear far too little about the rather predestrian efforts of our allies.

Then again, when I read this little snippet I realized that maybe we can eliminate the whole probelm within five years if we just do nothing.

Taliban commanders have claimed that the fundamentalist movement had prepared 10,000 fighters including 2,000 suicide bombers to speed up their attacks against Afghan and foreign forces based in Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Chin said...

Nice Post, Sim!!!

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