Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wanted: More troops in Afghanistan

The BBC is reporting that "Nato's leaders have urged member countries to provide reinforcements to help in its campaign against Taleban guerrillas in southern Afghanistan".

Now, I realize that "Nato troops took over leadership of military operations in the region from the US in July," but it seems to me (as to many others) that the situation in Afghanistan would be a lot better if the U.S. hadn't diverted so much attention, so many resources, and so many troops to Bush's misadventure in Iraq. America's NATO allies ought to provide the troop levels necessary to combat the Taliban effectively, and reinforcements may be coming, but where is the U.S. in all this? Has it not, to an extent, abdicated responsibility for Afghanistan? Has it not become so embroiled in the Iraqi quagmire that it just isn't in a position to continue the fight in Afghanistan?

And yet that is precisely where Taliban and al Qaeda forces remain (and perhaps Osama himself). The war on terror is essentially a war without major fronts, a war against a nebulous enemy, a war that requires law enforcement more than military might, but that doesn't mean that finishing the job in Afghanistan -- defeating the Taliban and securing the country to the point where the government in Kabul can govern effectively -- is no longer important. Bush and the U.S. seem to have forgotten that. Indeed, as I wrote back in July, Afghanistan has been largely forgotten and now faces a coming anarchy. And Bush seems to be ignoring it.

So, there aren't enough troops in Afghanistan? Should that come as any surprise? NATO can do more as a whole, but NATO's most powerful member might also want to pay a bit more attention itself. It was the U.S., after all, that launched the campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, well before the distraction of Iraq.

(On Canada's mission, and losses, in Afghanistan, see here.)

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