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.
Over the Bush term, the NATO mission in Afghanistan was kept afloat by their unceasing fearmongering - aided by the unceasing propaganda from the fugitive 9-11 suspects who took advantage of our military's focus on Bush's opportunistic militarism in Iraq and swelled their ranks with individuals compelled to adopt their moniker and their violent tactics as they resisted America's swaggering advance on their territory.
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.
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.
It's a wonder that so many still remain committed to our dual-occupations, until you consider that the likelihood of retaliatory violence threatening their own vulnerable nations comes well before anticipation of any act of terrorism the U.S. might face in our own homeland. They've been horribly compromised by the toxic relationship Bush forged with them out of his craven, blundering ambition to dominate the Middle East with our military forces. They're either with us, or tragically on their own.
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.
Hopefully, the Obama administration will present as comprehensive a plan for the future of our military forces in Afghanistan as they have for their economic initiatives. Until then, however, it's just not credible for them to ask our allies and others to commit their citizen's lives to what amounts to a self-perpetuating battle against the resistance to their very presence. But, they have to ask . . .