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Obama, the pragmatist, wins NATO kudos but few troops for Afghan mission

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The White House strategy aims to balance civil and military operations and bolster the Afghan police and Army en route to a responsible drawdown of NATO forces. The White House affirmed publicly in Strasbourg that it needs help, though in a final statement Obama noted, "This was not a pledging conference," and accentuated the positive aspects of Europe's promise for trainers and funding, calling it a "strong down payment on the future of our mission in Afghanistan ... and NATO."

Fréderic Bozo, a transatlantic expert at the Sorbonne in Paris, said it was "clear for weeks there would be no military increase coming from Europe.... The Obama administration made a virtue of necessity."

In post-NATO summit editorials, two British papers, the Sunday Times and the Telegraph, chided the alliance for not giving the White House more military assistance in support of its strategy. "The truth is that the United States, with the strong backing of a minority of NATO members, including Britain, is not being adequately supported by the rest of NATO," the Times stated.

Diplomacy success

In diplomatic terms, the summit appeared to go swimmingly – though antiwar protesters turned central Strasbourg into a ghost town on Saturday. French police cracked down on protesters trying to gain access to a bridge over the Rhine – the border of France and Germany, where French president Nicolas Sarkozy and German chancellor Angela Merkel had a symbolic meeting.

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