Leadership: NATO Cowards Called To Account


July 11, 2008: U.S., British, Canadian and Dutch diplomats are leaning hard on other NATO members to provide more meaningful support in Afghanistan. This is not the first time such complaints have been made, but because U.S., British, Canadian and Dutch troops are doing nearly all the fighting, while most of the 50,000 NATO troops (particularly the Germans and French) stay in the north, where there is very little action, tempers are getting short. What particularly irritates the four "fighting nations" are the 70-80 "special instructions" the other NATO nations have attached to the use of their troops in Afghanistan.

This pressure has had some effect. France is moving some of its combat troops to eastern Afghanistan, where there has been an increase in the number of Pakistani Taliban crossing the border. Some nations have offered to send much needed helicopters and medical units, but even this will take time. Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, most European nations have sharply cut their military spending (as a percentage of GDP), and just let their armed forces quietly fall apart. This has become embarrassingly obvious as they are now called on to step up help out in Afghanistan. Many politicians said yes, only to find themselves caught short by the realities of their decrepit armed forces.

The U.S. has been trying to supply more troops, but this is unpopular in the face of other NATO members shirking their responsibilities. Some 2,200 American marines are leaving in November, and the U.S. Army is reluctant to send another brigade to Afghanistan, after they just chased al Qaeda out of Iraq. Remnants of the terrorist organizations have fled to Pakistan, but the defeat in Iraq has hurt recruiting and fund raising worldwide. Even NATO politicians realize that this is an opportunity to deliver another crushing defeat to the Islamic terrorists, if only they have enough fighting troops in Afghanistan.


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