Stuck in theAfghanistan Trap

Europe is in for a hard time in the Hindu Kush – especially if Barack Obama is elected President.

One rule that all militaries try to observe is the one that says whoever goes to war must be prepared for worst-case scenarios. In Iraq and Afghanistan, that rule was apparently ignored.

With the mistaken assumption in 2001 that they had defeated the Taliban once and for all, the United States and its NATO allies failed to deploy enough troops to Afghanistan. The reconstruction (as well as the new construction) of the ruined nation was put, at first, on the back burner. And with the installation of the Karzai government, they believed they had solved Afghanistan’s complex political problems.

Now these mistakes have come home to roost. Afghanistan can’t get on its feet. Taliban troops inflict increasingly painful pinpricks on the coalition forces. And the Americans and Europeans have no clue as to how to escape from this trap.

In Europe, we’re seeing the first signs of Afghanistan fatigue. NATO needs to redouble its efforts there because Afghanistan sits very high on Barack Obama’s priority list. If the Democrat actually makes it to the White House, pressure on the coalition nations will grow to provide more troops. The demand from Washington will, of course, be couched as a polite request in keeping with the new president’s foreign policy agenda.

A European refusal is going to be awfully hard to explain.

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