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Fixing the Afghanistan mission: The U.S. wants to try, but what about Europe?

Afghan rebuilding suffers from violence and waste, writes the Financial Times about the communiqué by seven Afghan government ministers and diplomats from 22 countries, who met in Berlin. The communiqué stressed the "clear need for better connection and cohesion between reconstruction efforts with the necessary security assistance." More about this conference at Germany's Federal Foreign Office.

"America's European allies remained noncommittal about sending additional troops to Afghanistan today, even as the Bush administration sought to inject new energy into the NATO mission against the Taliban by offering more American soldiers and money." writes the New York Times about a NATO meeting in Brussels on January 26, 2007:
France and Germany continued to limit their combat role; both countries have refused to deploy troops in the south of the country, where Taliban forces are strongest. Germany’s Parliament has yet to approve a proposal to send six Tornado reconnaissance jets to southern Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi is battling allies in own party and government who oppose the Afghan mission and want the government to set a deadline for withdrawing the country’s 1,800 troops.
The United States sought to lead by example, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who called for the Brussels meeting in the hope of spurring more action from the Europeans, told the assembled ministers that President Bush will ask Congress for $10.6 billion in additional financial assistance for Afghanistan.  In addition, Bush administration officials said that the Pentagon will extend the Afghan tours of 3,200 American soldiers.
What a contrast to Germany: The Federal Foreign Office announced in December 2006 to "make available an additional 5 million euro (6.6 million US dollar) for police building in Afghanistan."
Within the scope of the international assistance for Afghanistan, Germany has been allocated the job of key partner nation for police building, and thus works with the Afghan Government to coordinate international efforts in this field. Since 2002, the German Government has spent over 70 million euro (93 million US dollars) on police building alone. Police building is a central plank of civilian reconstruction in Afghanistan. More than 60,000 police officers have so far received basic and further training from Germany and its partners (in particular the United States).
More about the German and U.S. failure to train Afghanistan's police.

• United Press International has learned that Germany got "support and praise for their reconstruction efforts in the northern provinces of Afghanistan":
"It is their approach with ordinary people that makes the Germans in the north so successful," said Maliha Zulfacar, the Afghan ambassador to Germany. Their approach "of concrete projects" had created jobs vital for stability in the north, she said. "With an empty stomach, democracy is hard to digest." A similar approach was needed for the southern provinces of Afghanistan, she said. An attaché of the Afghan embassy added that OEF's harsh military missions had driven many people in the south into the hands of the Taliban.
German paper urges to do everything to save Afghanistan: "The West" can learn from the mistakes in Iraq. A lot of money and as much creativity are needed, writes Die Welt. Personal comment: The Bush administration has asked Congress for more funds for Afghanistan. Now the Europeans should increase their commitment as well. It seems that especially the Europeans (rather than "the West") need to learn from Iraq.

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Don S on :

"United States tries to fix Afghanistan mission, but what about Europe?" Sorry. Fixing Afghanistan is hard enough. Europe may need 'fixing' but it's way too much effort to ask the US to do.... ;)

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Very funny! I have changed the headline.

Don S on :

I preferred the original... ;)

Don S on :

Increased European effort in Afghanistan, mon ami? I am confused. Ah, I perceive. It is the jape you make, non? There is of course no necessity to increase the French deployment from the current 50 to the clearly excessive 100, non? "The Bush administration has asked Congress for more funds for Afghanistan. Now the Europeans should follow suit." But this, yes. It is nothing but good sense. Now that the Bush administration has asked the US Congress for more funds for Afghanistan, Europe should also ask the US Congress for more funds for Afghanistan. Or rather demand.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Oops, apparently I am having my Bushisms day and you are having a good time ;-) I have changed it into "The Bush administration has asked Congress for more funds for Afghanistan. Now the Europeans should increase their commitment as well." "There is of course no necessity to increase the French deployment from the current 50 to the clearly excessive 100, non?" [b]France has some 1000 troops in Afghanistan. Besides, why do you talk about troops only? There are bigger problems: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/550-Failing-in-Afghanistan.html[/url] Just increasing the number of troops and removing those operational caveats will NOT fix the Afghanistan mission[/b], but you and many others give this impression in their comments and in blog posts and US MSM articles. So why do you talk only about the number of troops??? The Bush admin has finally realized it has to spend more money on reconstruction... Why do you mention only France? What about Italy? Or Spain or Austria? Or your dear Asian allies: Japan, or South Korea or India? Afghanistan is in their backyard. Sure, you can expect more from France and other Europeans, but why do you only mention France? Europe's and America's problems in Afghanistan are not just the number of troops and their operational caveats.

Don S on :

The Spanish, Joerg? That seems a legitimate challenge. I have been trying to work out how Spainish Premier Zapatero ought to be recieved should he visit Washington, in particular which song should be played to honor his most singular achievment. I believe I've found perfect match - from Gilbert & Sullivan's "The Gondoliers". [url=http://math.boisestate.edu/gas/gondoliers/html/gn_03.html]In Enterprise of Martial Kind....[/url]. "Duke: In enterprise of martial kind, When there was any fighting, He led his regiment from behind-- He found it less exciting. But when away his regiment ran, His place was at the fore, O-- That celebrated, Cultivated, Underrated Nobleman, The Duke of Plaza-Toro!" Though perhaps this ought to be the anthem of the EU or of NATO instead? What do you think?

Old European on :

"It seems that especially the Europeans (rather than "the West") need to learn from Iraq." Well, my country knew enough not to get involved in the Iraq gang rape from the start, so please spare us this condescending bullshit. Afghanistan is not our responsibility either. The warmongers should be the only ones to pay for their crimes and let's not forget, to pay hefty reparations for any and all harm done to civilians, as Iraq was made to do to Kuwait. I suggest confiscating the personal fortunes of the Bush administration members, Blair, Berlusconi and everybody else who publicly supported these wars, for a start?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks for your comment! "Afghanistan is not our responsibility either." Why not? Old Europe is part of NATO, which invoked article 5 of the treaty to call 9/11 an attack against the entire alliance. NATO has committed itself to Afghanistan. So now it is our responsibility. If Old Europe does not like the US policy in Afghanistan, then Old Europe should make suggestions for a new one. Besides, the US is not involved in North Afghanistan, which is Germany's main responsibility. And still, there are many severe problems in Afghanistan. What makes you think, this is not our responsibility? I do, however, want to acknowledge, that the United States first wanted to deal with Afghanistan on their own. The Bush admin did not want to give a significant role to NATO. The US wanted to hunt the Taliban rather than providing reconstruction etc. Many mistakes were made. Afghan civilians were killed, little reconstruction and job creation. This led to alienation of many Afghans. Then NATO got more involved. Perhaps that was too late. Still, NATO could have turned things around, but they (we) did not. Anyway, what do you want to see happen? Do you want Old Europe to leave NATO? Do you think NATO's purpose is to help Europe only, but not help the US? Is that your understanding of an alliance?

Old European on :

For your information, a fair number of European countries are not members of NATO, including mine, e.g. Finland, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg. As a citizen of one of these countries, I do not feel any especial responsibility for the mess in Afghanistan, apart from general humanitarian concern, as I feel for anyone who is in need and oppressed. NATO, in my opinion, is an obsolete organization, basically a racket to get European countries to buy expensive US hardware, indoctrinate their military personnel on a regular basis with propaganda, and keep them dependent and pliant at the same time, with the illusion that their opinions are taken into account. The Afghanistan mission may well hasten the end of NATO if it ends badly, as I suspect will happen. As an outsider I do not particularly care, but I think it is time the NATO countries emancipated themselves from this situation, and recalled that US interests and their own tend to coincide less and less these days. And we have less and less in common ideologically. The Bush presidency is a sort of catalyst which made it more obvious, but the trend was there all along. A friendly divorce would be the obvious solution.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I appreciate your response. I assumed you came from a NATO country because you described yourself as a Old European, which was as you know Rumsfeld term for France, Germany and Belgium. Okay, you use "Old Europe" in a different sense. I think it is a crazy term. Austria is not any older than Hungary, which supported the Iraq war. Britain, Spain and Italy are pretty old European, but they supported the Iraq war as well. What is Old Europe for you? > For your information, a fair number of European countries are > not members of NATO, including mine, e.g. Finland, Sweden, > Austria, Switzerland, Luxemburg. Luxemburg is a founding member of NATO. Do you know why Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace. And at least some of them have send troops to Kosovo and Afghanistan. I guess, Austria appreciated NATO's Bosnia and Kosovo missions since the Balkan is just a few hours away from the Austrian border... That's why Austria is now in Afghanistan. Quid pro quo? Perhaps Finland and Sweden is participating in some NATO activities because they are concerned about Russia... I don't know. > As a citizen of one of these > countries, I do not feel any especial responsibility for the > mess in Afghanistan, apart from general humanitarian concern, > as I feel for anyone who is in need and oppressed. If NATO pulls out of Afghanistan, then there could be full civil war again and the Taliban might win again. Would you then feel again some humanitarian concern for everybody oppressed by the Taliban? NATO is trying to prevent civil war and a return of the Taliban or any other brutal rulers. I can understand that you are not happy with some of NATO's policies. I don't like them either. And I have written a lot about it, for example: "Air war costs NATO Afghan supporters: an increase in air strikes has led to more innocent deaths as Taliban fighters use civilians as human shields." [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/550-Failing-in-Afghanistan.html[/url] Or: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/498-Should-Germany-Send-Troops-to-Southern-Afghanistan.html[/url] > NATO, in my opinion, is an obsolete organization, Many folks on both sides of the Atlantic think that way, but I think there will come a day, when Europe and the US need NATO. > basically a > racket to get European countries to buy expensive US > hardware, Is any European country doing that? > indoctrinate their military personnel on a regular > basis with propaganda, For example? > and keep them dependent and pliant at > the same time, with the illusion that their opinions are > taken into account. ??? You lost me. Please elaborate. > and recalled that US interests and their own tend > to coincide less and less these days. What are the biggest differences between US interests and those of European countries??? There are some differences, but I think most are exaggerated. Usually, Europeans and Americans share the same interests, but disagree about how best to achieve them. Thought, Europeans disagree with each other as well...

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