Can NATO Bridge Afghanistan Troop Gap?

NATO has pledged 5,000 of the 10,000 troops Obama requested. Will their hawkish chief come through?

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NATO announced that its member states will send at least 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to complement President Obama's commitment of 30,000 Americans. The promised contributions range from 1,000 Italian troops to 85 soldiers from Albania. Obama has asked NATO to send twice that so that the total increase will reach 40,000, the amount General Stanley McChrystal had initially requested. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen will be a key player in negotiating more troops from NATO. Will Europe come to the rescue in Afghanistan?

  • Does NATO Have the Troops?  Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating is skeptical. "France and Germany are holding off on any troop decision until an international conference in January, though French President Nicolas Sarkozy has previously pledged that he 'won't send an additional soldier.' The other big question is the Netherlands, whose parliament voted for a non-binding resolution in favor of withdrawal when the Dutch mission ends next August." If the Dutch "follow through," they will remove 2,160 troops from the equation.
  • Rasmussen: 'Our Fight'  The NATO Secretary General reassured Americans directly, with a column in the Huffington Post. "If we are to make Afghanistan more stable, and ourselves more secure, we must show that our multilateral Alliance can deliver concrete results. At this important moment, NATO must demonstrate its unity and its strength once again. This is our fight, and together we must finish it. I have spent the past weeks speaking with NATO leaders, and I can confirm that both allies and troop-contributing partner countries will step up to the plate."
  • Rasmussen's Dangerous Argument  Spencer Ackerman counters Rasmussen's rallying cry that NATO must halt Afghanistan's notorious opium production. "The least compelling explanation for the Afghanistan war in human history is to conceive of it as a counternarcotics mission. This is an argument too stupid and in too much bad faith to take it seriously, so suffice it to say that after the Afghanistan war ends, Afghanistan will still produce and export a lot of opiates."
  • NATO's Big Stake  The New Atlanticist's Kurt Volker declares, "A failure in Afghanistan would also set in motion the decline of NATO." Volker writes, "It would give a boost to violent Islamist extremists globally, affecting the security of every NATO ally [...] a failure in Afghanistan would be seen as NATO’s failure, and it would signal to the American Congress and public that European Allies are not prepared to do what it takes to win conflicts far from Europe."
  • NATO's Hawkish Chief  Some U.S. war-watchers say Rasmussen has an aggressive approach to the war that could strongly influence NATO's role. Spencer Ackerman calls him "a Big Old Hawk." Matthew Yglesias think he's "considerably more hawkish in his rhetoric on Afghanistan than Barack Obama is." Ackerman profiles Rasmussen's Afghanistan thinking here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.