f_0017761_15212 - NATOs Survival Depends on Afghanistan...

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Fall 2009 The Ambassadors REVIEW 7 NATO’s Survival Depends on Afghanistan David M. Abshire President of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Co-Founder of the Center for Strategic and International Studies United States Ambassador to NATO, 1983-1987 eneral Stanley McChrystal has said that without additional forces America will experience “Mission Failure” in Afghanistan. There is a growing fear within both the American political right and left that General McChrystal’s request for additional troop increases in Afghanistan will start us on the road to another Vietnam. Shockingly, no one, not even the President, has yet to call for some form of comparable commitments from our allies. Ironically, it was the European members of the Alliance which took the initiative to invoke Article 5 after the 9/11 attacks, signaling that the attack was an attack against them all. Thus, Europeans were willing to make Afghanistan NATO’s war. During the initial phase of the “War on Terror,” the United States mistakenly believed it did not need allies and made little effort to involve NATO in its operations until overextension in Iraq forced the United States to seek allies when it set up the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Terrorist attacks on European cities have also made it clear that Europe has just as much at stake in Afghanistan. However, NATO has yet to fully commit itself to Afghanistan. The current dilemma is that as Americans debate the merits of troop increases, even our staunchest European allies are talking about cutting troop commitments and searching for a way out. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have even called for an international conference to establish an exit strategy for their forces. In the wake of the deaths of six Italian soldiers, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has also expressed his desire to bring Italian troops home. Both Canada and the Netherlands have already announced plans to withdraw their combat forces by 2011. European leaders have failed to grasp that a premature pullout from Afghanistan will irrevocably damage the transatlantic relationship. The value of allies to a military campaign becomes obvious when examining the contrasting lessons from the Korean and Vietnam Wars. In Korea, I served as a company commander with the 25 th division alongside a fearless Turkish brigade. Our UN allies, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and others, also fought with us.
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