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NYT on Europe's 'Tepid Troop Commitment'

Harmony isn't a very interesting reporting item, and so from the NATO summit in Strasbourg-Kehl, we mainly get to see video images of burning hotels, and reports exaggerating the scope of disagreements. The New York Times report by Steven Erlanger and Helene Cooper provides a quite clear example. They write:
For Mr. Obama, in many ways, the two months since he took office have been a reality check on the difference between Europe’s vocal support and action.
But was there loud vocal support in Europe for a surge in Afghanistan in the first place? I haven't heard it. In any case, the Obama administration has long been playing down expectations of additional troops from Europe. In public it moved to asking European countries for more aid instead. In that sense, the 5,000 added troops European countries have now (temporarily) committed are a decent result for Obama to take home.

The size of the added money for the Afghan National Army and civilian aid, at 100 million and a pledged 500 million for aid, on the other hand, are not very impressive, although Obama says that it is 'signficant'. Perhaps he expects that he will get more in the future?

The NYT report also plays up the tension with Turkey over the nomination of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO Secretary General. It seems that the negotiations took a long time, but at the end of the day, there was agreement. Turkey got a few concessions, and Rasmussen got the post.


The difference with the report in the French paper Le Monde is striking. Le Monde writes that this summit has managed to achieve consensus, and focuses on the agreement existing on Afghanistan, the new Secretary General, the reinitiated dialogue with Russia and the return of France to the military command.

Perhaps that is a bit too rosy, but consensus seems to dominate at the end of this conference. Whether the consensus is right and whether everything that has been promised will also be delivered are other questions.

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Joe Noory on :

So your point is that even if there is a complete breakdown in agreement long understood to take place, that there should still be pointless conferences and that it still must be called "harmony"? Is that all that the politics of being a citizen of the EU amounts to anymore?

nanne on :

I don't see a 'complete breakdown in agreement' on any major topic in NATO right now. The Obama administration is doing nearly everything that the main European countries want the US to do.

Joe Noory on :

Which lends it that post-coital glow of 'harmony'. However the reverse, American interests being denied while the US government makes nothing of the rejections publicly, is still called 'harmony' in Europe. There was total divergance on Afghanistan, even among the European parties, let alone the US and Canada. Even Pavlov's dog couldn't call that 'harmony'. No, my problem is the obsession with the word 'harmony' itself... that bugaboo of small minds seeking gleichhaltung at all costs, even if it involves jumping off of a cliff. That the search for that buzz on the astral plane of never having to face those one disagrees with becomes more important than teh subject being taken up.

nanne on :

There is no real divergence on Afghanistan anymore. Having a consensus on the strategy is important in fighting wars together, but other than that there is no 'obsession' with harmony, more a concern whether the strategy is achievable.

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