Well, it seems there may be consternation among the British and US leadership who attended the NATO summit in Strasbourg yesterday, even if they’re putting on a brave face. As The Times put it; “…though he [Obama] continued to dazzle Europeans on his debut international tour, the Continent’s leaders turned their backs on the US President.”
Although European allies agreed to provide up to 5,000 more troops, these would mainly be for policing, training and logistics missions, while the Germans continue to send troops to Northern Afghanistan, the part which has seen the least fighting in recent years.
Of course, those NATO members who refuse to up their combat troop numbers are actually listening to their public opinion…you know, the people they represent. It seems that the British and US leadership don’t bother worrying themselves with something so trifling and continue an unpopular, and by most reckonings, unwinnable war (according to a British commander) in military strategy well outside NATO’s remit (ie, a defensive pact to act within the North Atlantic).
We’re told that upping troop numbers and intensifying the war is what is required to get the job done in the long term. There are a number of military experts who question such thinking. Simon Jenkins quite astutely referred to the Afghanistan war as ‘Vietnam for slow learners’. Well put I feel.
But yes, it does feel as though I’m entering a bizarro world when members of the mainstream media/academia take apart those NATO member who wont contribute new combat troops. The Spanish government probably set the tone when on being elected, it actually fulfilled a manifesto promise and promptly withdrew all troops out of Iraq, just as the general public had wished. To me, this is good governance. You tell your representatives what to do, and they do it. Of course in many circles there is a deference to rule, rather than representation. The general public apparently don’t know what their interests are, they need to be told.
It seems a majority of Americans are oppossed to the Afghanistan war. This of course translates into Barack Obama sending 21,000 more troops to that conflict.
Obviously the last people asked anything about this are the Afghan people themselves. It’s their country, but they’re an irrelevance. Hamid Karzai (not someone I defended much in the past) has become more vocal about NATO air strikes killing scores of civilians at a time is to be sidelined for a more malleable ‘leader’. Perhaps we could poll the Afghan people and ask them if they’d prefer NATO forces stay in the country and finish the job off. In many areas, support for the Taliban has risen due to NATO’s brutal methods. From what I have read, it seems many would support a civil force to help with reconstruction and policing, while the combat troops are removed, or a small level stay to defend such forces. In my mind, this would work well along with massive reperationspaid by NATO for heaping such destruction on the civilian population (who had nothing to do with the 11th September 2001 attacks).
Of course, we’ll continue to hear people moan about those lazy Europeans not shifting their weight to help bring democracy and freedom to the people NATO have been killing in Afghanistan. If this whole thing ends up creating great tensions among the NATO members and a disbanding of that organisation, it can only be a good thing. Created during the Cold War to prevent an attack on the Soviet Union, it’s raison d’etre is gone, surely making it moribund. If the organisation is simply going to be a tool of it’s most powerful members to project their power abroad, the world is better off without it.