Free Markets, Free People


NATO Says No To Obama’s Afgan Plea

Reality intruded on President Obama’s magical mystery tour in Europe today as NATO ministers turned a deaf ear to his plea for more troops in Afghanistan:

Gordon Brown was the only one to offer substantial help. He offered to send several hundred extra British soldiers to provide security during the August election, but even that fell short of the thousands of combat troops that the US was hoping to prise from the Prime Minister.

Just two other allies made firm offers of troops. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12. Mr Obama’s host, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused his request.

Of course this had all been predicted by those who’ve been watching NATO and Europe for years (which would include us here at QandO). Western Europe, which forms the bulk of NATO, for the most part has no stomach for the war in Afghanistan, heck, they barely have a stomach for their own defense. Instead of the thousands troops, Obama was sure he’d be able to charm from them he’ll see 547 to 747 more troops, most from the UK, while the US sends 21,000.

While the school girls and press may be enamored with the charm and glamor of Obama, one of the major reasons for his trip turns out to be an unsurprising failure.

~McQ

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22 Responses to NATO Says No To Obama’s Afgan Plea

  • Ooops.   http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/04/04/washington/AP-EU-Obama.html
    Doncha just hate it when things go America’s way?

    • Ooops?

      Did you read the article you cited?

      The allies, however, refused to agree to a U.S. request for additional combat troops.

      • Yeah, he read the headline…was there more to it that?  Like the second paragraph even?

  • But… but… but… I thought the only reasons the Euros didn’t do everything that we ask them to do is because of Bush’s (snarl!) cowboy diplomacy!  And… and… and… I thought that the mere PRESENCE of TAO in Europe would create a wave of love for America that would have Euros rushing to help us in everything we do!  Isn’t that what MiniTru PROMISED us during the election campaign???

    / sarc

    One wonders if TAO and his idiot followers will learn a few lessons from this and the failures of his other diplomatic efforts over the past couple of weeks, i.e:

    1.  While personalities CAN have a big impact on diplomacy (cf. Edward VII’s visit to France prior to World War I), charm and personality can’t do it all;

    2.  When the other party is just as firmly wedded to his goal as you are to yours, it’s VERY hard and probably impossible to convince him to change his mind or get him to alter his behavior;

    3.  Diplomacy has its place in pursuing national goals, but it is not the goal.  TAO and idiot libs seem to think that diplomacy is an end in itself, that having a gab-fest is the same as winning a victory.

    The jug-eared idiot has promised that he will be “persistent” in his diplomacy.  I wonder whether he will try this persistence in Europe, and when they will tell him to p*ss off and stop bothering them.

    I’m also curious if the Euros’ refusal to send troops indicates that his plan to surge in A-stan has failed the “global test” and that, therefore, he’ll cancel the idea.

  • While the school girls and press may be enamored with the charm and glamor of Obama, one of the major reasons for his trip turns out to be an unsurprising failure.

    What are you talking about? The trip was a blazing success! Michelle dazzled everyone with her fashion and toned biceps!

  • Yahoo headlines said they agreed to send 5,000 troops…funny, but I trust QandO more than Yahoo headlines.

  • I’ll actually give Obama a couple of points for this one, even though it’s a really meager commitment.

    First of all, in this war, the front lines are a bit hazy, and those 5,000 police and trainers may very well be exposed to fighting.

    Second, Europe’s strength isn’t in front-line combat troops anymore.  It’s pretty sad, but true: they can be most complementary by doing what they specialize in, which is military police and stabilization ops (I’m thinking of Italy and France particularly, though I don’t know how much they’ve pledged).  Our troops don’t really want to do that stuff — my impression is that, even after gaining that valuable Surge experience, our Marines and soldiers prefer to go on the offensive, close with the enemy and destroy him.  And if we’re the ones putting ourselves at the greatest risk, that’s how it is.

  • Bwahhaha This was the man that was supposed to charm the world by his awesome presence.  Remember? He was smart and articulate and not filled with hubris like that cretin Bush.

  • The Europeans gave him more than they should have (I was surprised that he got what he did — I think Obama knew he wasn’t going to get combat troops going in!)  I think the message Europe should give Obama is “get the hell out of Afghanistan, it’ll suck you dry and bleed your Presidency.  The world economy is in dire straighhts, the world system is changing, don’t waste money and prestige on this!

    • I think the message Europe should give Obama is

      Since Obama is sending more American troops, I guess that makes him a unilateralist. Shouldn’t you be condemning this kind of cowboy mentality?

      • And let’s be clear about what Obama did get – 3,000 of the 5,000 promised “troops” will only be on a short term mission to cover the election. None of the troops promised are combat troops – and that was what he went to NATO go obtain.

  • Erb,

    But its okay to spend it on a plethora of other questionable programs?

    Also, I was told by the world media that if Obama was elected our allies would be more willing to cooperate. Was the media simply mistaken or lying to me?

  • Erb:  I think the message Europe should give Obama is “get the hell out of Afghanistan, it’ll suck you dry and bleed your Presidency.  The world economy is in dire straighhts, the world system is changing, don’t waste money and prestige on this!”

    OEF does pose interesting dilemmas. Our national interest there mainly is limited to denying haven to terrorists and their hosts, which is problematic because our forces are bound by national borders and other concerns (eg, Pakistan’s stability) that do not bind the enemy.  The enemy can base out of Pakistan; even if Pakistan is denied, it’s not his last stand; he can move elsewhere. Our challenge has been to displace and disenfranchise the enemy permanently. How to do this? The West’s SOP answer is modernization, integration, development and liberalization, which means a limited goal becomes a revolutionary nation-engineering project. Many smart folks believe these goals are unrealistic for Afghanistan, and far too expensive for the potential return. In comparison, as President Obama acknowledged in the recent 60 Minutes interview, Iraq has and had a much better chance than Afghanistan to succeed. Plus, a reformed Iraq, with its geopolitical, cultural and economic position, holds potential to be a catalyst for greater change in the Arab Middle East. Afghanistan does not.  

    My recommendation to the President would be to build upon the choices made by his predecessors. Iraq is the better investment and the Obama administration should continue to focus our investment on Iraq. While not a sure thing either, Iraq is likelier both to succeed and contribute to our national interests. Given that our interest in Afghanistan, and the SW Asia region, is mainly limited to denying haven to the enemy, there is some good sense in Obama’s current effort to shift responsibility for Afghanistan onto regional powers. If the West’s SOP of liberalization is beyond Afghanistan, then the next option is to fall back on security interests. On that level, security interest is better common ground with illiberal regional players like Iran, Russia, and China. 

    That said, as a progressive liberal, I do not want to suggest reneging on our liberal promises to Afghanistan. I would prefer we honor our promises to Afghanistan as we have done so far in Iraq. If Obama does successfully bring regional players into Afghanistan, I doubt they would be interested in advancing our promises. I just don’t know that we can do better there.

    Finally, as a tangentially related compare and contrast with Iraq, we made the choice in Afghanistan to enter with and then maintain a minimal occupation footprint. We relied on pre-existing clan power structures to fight Al Qaeda and the Taliban. However, with the pre-existing power structures left largely intact, they have since undermined and development of the post-war central government, which has contributed to the resurgence of the Taliban. What worked in the war has been a problem for the post-war. We did the opposite in Iraq. We have been criticized widely for dismantling the existing power structures in Iraq, especially the Iraq military, thus leaving an exploitable vacuum and forcing a greater burden onto the occupation. But today, unlike the Taliban in Afghanistan, there isn’t talk of a Saddam-esque Baath threatening to return in Iraq. It seems as though the choice many critics said was disastrous in Iraq has actually been a constructive factor. 

    Is the lesson of OEF for OIF that we would be dealing with far worse problems today in Iraq if Bremer had opted to preserve the existing Iraqi power structures? And, is the lesson of OIF for OEF that we would be more successful in Afghanistan today if we had ‘surged’ into Afghanistan with a more dominant occupational presence and the confidence we would succeed where the Soviets had failed, and broken down the existing power structures?

    • Iraq is a loser, Obama must get out of there.  We got ‘peace on the cheap’ by not going after Iranian backed Shi’ite militias (they are armed and patient), the Kurds control their territory and won’t share power.  The Sunni tribes dominate in their region, and the central government is exceedingly corrupt, and close to Iran.  When we leave, violence may again rise between Sunni and Shi’ite, but staying will be costly and never give the US much influence.  Moreover, the government there won’t let the US stay, or give the US much influence.  It was a monumental failure.

      The key is to recognize we really don’t need, and can’t afford, that kind of imperialistic foreign policy.  Those days are over.  Counter terrorism can be done in a much different manner, without major military involvement.  Getting involved over there plays into terrorists hands because they are a tiny minority, but can take any US misdeeds (or alleged misdeeds) and use them to inflame the passions of the large youth population.  I think as it comes time to cut spending due to economic necessity, that kind of adventure needs to be the first to go.  From a moral standpoint, going over and killing people and destroying lives to try to further a country’s own ideological aspirations is the kind of thing the US has traditionally opposed.  So we have to stop doing it ourselves.

      • Iraq is a loser, Obama must get out of there. That is, it’s a definite loser for the left for anything good to come out of it, and Obama knows that, so I’m sure he’ll do the right thing and get out of there before we wise leftists have to do any more explaining of why low violence, peaceful elections, and a growing economy in Iraq is really bad news. It’s a complex political sciencey thing that we have a really hard time explaing to dense righties. But I’ll try.

        We got ‘peace on the cheap’ by not going after Iranian backed Shi’ite militias (they are armed and patient), the Kurds control their territory and won’t share power. And those Iranians are going to be the beneficiaries, you just wait and see. Religion trumps everything over there, and the Iraqi Shi’ites are just quivering to hand everything over to their Persian masters. Count on it. I decree it.

        The Sunni tribes dominate in their region, and the central government is exceedingly corrupt, and close to Iran. I’m telling you, it’s those wicked Iranians again, and I don’t either just keep pulling Iran out of the hat to explain why everything is bad there, so stop saying that! And stop bringing up the fact that it’s stupid to connect Iran to both the Sunnis and the Shi’ites! It’s perfectly logical, I tell you! I decree it!!

        When we leave, violence may again rise between Sunni and Shi’ite, but staying will be costly and never give the US much influence. You see, the rising violence would allow we wise leftists to claim we knew what was coming all along, so we could crow for years about how we were right and you thick righties were all wrong. Moreover, the government there won’t let the US stay, or give the US much influence. And the fact that we don’t really want influence beyond fostering a peaceful open society that will resist Islamic terrorism is completely, utterly wrong. We’re imperialists, as I’ll get to in just a minute. We really wanted to dominate the whole region and steal their oil, and we were never going to be able to do that. So it was a monumental failure. I decree it.

        The key is to recognize we really don’t need, and can’t afford, that kind of imperialistic foreign policy. See, I told you I’d get to the imperialism thing. You see, any military action taken by a right-wing president is imperialism. The holy writ of postmodernism tells us this. Why, even the first Gulf War in 1991 was imperialist as I explain on my blog in a tear-jerking post about my six year old son, who will probably be drafted to fight in imperialist Republican wars unless we wise leftists rule forever and we immediately pull out of the Middle East.

        Those imperialist days are over. Counter terrorism can be done in a much different manner, without major military involvement. And no, I can’t tell you any of those different manners offhand, but I decree that they exist, so you’ll just have to take my word and shut up about it. Besides, I’ll put up a zillion word blog post real soon that explains how the holy writ of postmodernism dictates that we don’t need military involvement for anything. And that does not either make me a cowardly pacifist, so you really, really ought to stop saying that!!

        Getting involved over there plays into terrorists hands because they are a tiny minority. I’ve explained this to you guys so many times, you must be really dense not to get it. There’s just a few of them, I tell you, and their religion doesn’t really motivate them. Nope, it’s definitely always US misdeeds (or alleged misdeeds) that inflame the passions of the large youth population. In other words, it’s all our fault when that tiny minority comes over here and kills thousands of people. And if we pulled out, and entered into a couple of decades of self-effacement and prostrating ourselves before them, they would see how nice we are and never bother us again, and both sides could go back to playing with fluffy puppies and breeding silver unicorns. My God, don’t you dense, militant, violence-loving, insane-basket-case righties see this!?!?

        I think as it comes time to cut spending due to economic necessity, that kind of adventure needs to be the first to go. Because otherwise, it would be well-intentioned, social engineering leftist programs that get cut, and we certainly can’t have that. From a moral standpoint, going over and killing people and destroying lives to try to further a country’s own ideological aspirations is the kind of thing the US has traditionally opposed. And even though we have also traditional opposed having foreigners kill our citizens, when it’s really our own fault, we’ll just have to change that tradition and accept them killing us whenever they feel like it, because we’re really at fault. So we have to stop doing it ourselves, since, as I said, it’s all definitely our fault. I decree it.

    • Guess you ignored the part where the guy who thinks like you is saying he THINKS Afghanistan is important because fighting terror there means we don’t have to fight it HERE.  Doesn’t sound like he thinks like you after all.

      “but Obama said pointedly that, while improving conditions in Afghanistan is a commendable goal, people need to remember that the primary reason U.S. troops are fighting there is to protect Americans at home from terrorist attacks.”

      But you go ahead and not worry about that, you’re probably busy reading up on the British Monarchy now since you totally demonstrated the other day as a professional poly sci guy you didn’t have clue about the Queen’s actual power.

  • It was a monumental failure.

    That’s what Erb’s students say about his class upon graduation.

    • Actually, I think that’s what the students’ parents would say if they knew they were paying money to a political science professor who doesn’t even know the meaning of the terms “fascism” or “imperialism”