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
- 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
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.
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