Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chicago Summit: Harper supports limited NATO goals in Afghanistan

The U.S. will be playing the role of beggar at the Chicago NATO summit begging any NATO member who will listen to give more money towards financing the Afghan military between 2014 and 2024.

Even the Canadian Prime Minister has not committed yet to the new mission. Canada has 900 troops in a training role until 2014 but NATO wants Canada to keep troops in Afghanistan after that. Harper is usually eager to support the U.S. and NATO but in this case he still seems to be pondering whether the political fallout would be worth it. France has already announced that it is withdrawing combat troops by the end of the year.

After U.S. pressure Britain, Australia, and Germany have pledged between 100 and 200 million U.S. a year to fund the Afghan military. However this is a small part of the estimated 4 billion a year even a reduced Afghan force would require. The lion's share of the burden will fall on the already stressed U.S. taxpayers.

Obama of course stresses the fact that U.S. combat troops will be leaving by 2014 and is declaring that he is keeping his promise to wind down the war. However the other part of the story is that he has extended the U.S. commitment from 2014 to 2024.

U.S. troops will stay after 20024 it has just not been decided how many and under what terms. It is clear that special forces will continue with night raids and that also drone attacks will as well in spite of some restrictions in the Strategic Partnership Agreement.

The goals of the NATO mission are deflated considerably. No one talks of ensuring democracy and good governance or building more schools and ensuring more girls go to school.. Stephen Harper said that the goal should be to ensure that Afghanistan did not become a haven for international terrorism. Obama's security adviser Tom Donilon said:. “The goal is to have an Afghanistan that has a degree of stability such that forces like al-Qaeda and associated groups cannot have safe haven unimpeded,” “No. 2, an Afghanistan that has a set of security assets that allow it to provide for that modicum of stability and to be able to protect itself against groups like that.” NATO is even expected to reduce the size of projected security forces from 352,000 to a much smaller force as few as 228,500. But NATO may have problems even obtaining the financing for that. Even this smaller force will require a subsidy of about 4 billion plus per year. NATO publics faced with already serious debt problems and cuts in programs are not likely to put up with questionable expenditures in far off lands. For more see this article The U.S. at present is spending about 100 billion a year on the war

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