THERE'S clearly an increasingly desperate U.S. need for other nations to commit more resources and troops to NATO's floundering efforts in Afghanistan, but, there's just not enough of a defined mission from the U.S. to convince other nations to send even more money and lives to support the American cause there.
Still, the new administration is bound to ask them - partly because Pres. Obama has pledged to exercise multilateralism in his strident criticisms during the campaign of Bush's international shortcomings -- and, mostly because the U.S. dominance in the Afghanistan mission (stemming from our original retaliatory entrance into the country) has stifled the necessary diplomatic progress which would transform the mission from a military one to a diplomatic effort providing critical aid and support for the struggling population.
The international coalition which stepped up in Afghanistan in the wake of the 9-11 killings made perfect sense_ until Bush decided that Iraq would make an easy prize and led many of the same countries into their distracting war of opportunity. The collateral effect of the Iraq invasion and occupation was eventually determined by Bush's own intelligence agencies to be fueling and fostering even more individuals resigned to violence against the U.S, our interests, and our allies.
America had lured these allied nations to our defense -- only to deepen their danger and risk with reckless disregard for civilian life or for any pretense of the democratic ideals and principles Bush claimed to be 'spreading' with his unbridled militarism across sovereign borders.
The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has not become the pet project of the rest of the world, because, they have witnessed a stubborn adherence by the last administration in Washington to a self-perpetuating policy of military aggression directed, almost exclusively, against the effects of our own destabilizing militarism.
Still, the new administration has to ask for help_ "It is a new administration, and the administration is prepared ... to make additional commitments to Afghanistan," U.S. Defense Chief Gates told reporters Wednesday.
"But there clearly will be expectations that the allies must do more as well . . . There is a requirement out there in terms of the desire to have people sign up for additional troops during that period and frankly the response so far has been disappointing," he said.
It's no wonder, though, to find our allies reluctant to commit themselves to more of a mission which has yet to be defined in any significant or comprehensive way; even though that didn't stop the president yesterday from approving the deployment of an additional 17,000 or more troops to Afghanistan.
To get us to that new Afghan strategy, Pres. Obama has created an 'inter-agency task force' to review U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan which is due to report back to him by the NATO summit in April. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and Brookings fellow, will co-chair the review along with Richard Holbrooke and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Michele Flournoy.
That's enough time for the nations who are expected to continue to follow the U.S. in committing even more troops and resources to the NATO effort in Afghanistan to demand their own commitments from Obama that the U.S. will not practice the same type of blustering militarism which marked the last administration's term.
Countries who have already sacrificed lives and livelihoods to the Afghanistan mission, like Canada, welcomed the announced 'surge' of U.S. forces as an opportunity to step back from combat which has had a proportionally devastating effect on their nation's defenders. It will be remarkable to find nations which are eager to commit their troops to an indefinite battle against the specters of America's fugitive terror suspects.