Thursday, February 19, 2009

Afghanistan - NATO Shrugs

The next two years will reveal just how much damage George W. Bush inflicted upon America's war in Afghanistan.

I say "America's war" because that's rapidly becoming a reality as some NATO nations (the Netherlands and Canada) prepare to pack up with no other member states coming forward to take their place.

The NATO nations' increasing resistance to fighting in Afghanistan is evident in America's alternate campaign to get NATO members to contribute civilian support in lieu of combat forces. That, friends, is tantamount to begging.

Oh Britain will soldier on alongside America, even throw a few more troops into the battle, all part of that trans-Atlantic solidarity thing, but it won't be enough to make the sort of difference needed to turn the tide in Afghanistan.

As for Canada, our chief of defence staff warned last week that the Canadian military is exhausted and will need to stand down at least two years after the 2011 cut off to recover. Buried inside that statement are a number of questions. When did NDHQ know the army was getting worn out and when did it tell Harper? Was Harper asked to authorize an expansion of the army to furnish fresh troops for combat in Afghanistan and, if so, did he refuse? Is our military really burnt out as we're told or is that a convenient cover for insisting on leaving in 2011?

One way or the other, NATO's refusal to answer Obama's call is plain enough. The key member states showed up to win but Bush kept his first and second strings in Iraq instead. The NATO forces were left to babysit a deteriorating war. Now they've had enough.

Ironically, it's Rumsfeld's "new Europe" that ought to be stepping up to show their appreciation for being admitted to NATO. Yet, with a couple of small exceptions, they're nowhere to be seen. They must think we're real idiots.

I do sympathize with Obama. It's like taking over as coach in the fourth quarter of a losing game with just a few minutes left on the clock and looking at a demoralized bench. Pretty hard to turn that around.

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