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In Afghanistan, NATO is fighting for its life

What has happened to the great alliance of democracies that won the cold war? NATO has yet to fully mobilize and exhibits no sense of urgency concerning the extremist threat in Afghanistan.

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Many European leaders praised President Obama’s plan to send 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan to turn the tide against the Taliban insurgency. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has announced that 25 countries appear ready to pledge around 7,000 new troops. 

Despite these moderate increases, most European leaders have not begun to tap the impressive resource base of the NATO alliance, which includes over 2 million non-US troops. Of the 28 countries in NATO, only the US, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Poland, Romania, and the Netherlands provide sizable forces that are not handicapped by restrictive “combat caveats,” which prevent forces from participating in the full range of counterinsurgency operations. Furthermore, Canada and the Netherlands have not reversed their plans to withdraw by 2011.

No wonder that, when asked recently if NATO was not working well in Afghanistan, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner responded “It’s not working at all.” 

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