At this week’s NATO conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, an angry U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates accused some Europeans of not being prepared to “fight and die” in Afghanistan in the battle against the Taliban.
The undiplomatic Gates is quite right. Most Europeans regard the Afghan conflict as a) wrong and immoral; b) America’s war; c) all about oil; or d) probably lost.
To many Europeans, the NATO alliance was created to deter the real threat of Soviet aggression, not to supply foot soldiers for George Bush’s wars in the Muslim world.
While Gates and the Harper government were pleading for more troops, the commander of the 40,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. Dan McNeill, landed a bombshell. If proper U.S. military counter-insurgency doctrine were followed, McNeill admitted, the U.S. and NATO would need 400,000 troops to defeat Pashtun tribal resistance in Afghanistan.
When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan, they deployed 160,000 troops and about 200,000 Afghan Communist troops — yet failed to crush the mostly Pashtun resistance. Now, the U.S. and NATO are trying the same mission with only 66,000 troops, backed by local mercenaries grandly styled the Afghan National Army.