Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Reality of International Support in Afghanistan

We in the U.S. are often reminded that many countries in the world do not support our mission in Iraq and therefore will not contribute troops or other personnel. On the other hand, almost everyone supports our justified invasion of Afghanistan, the base and sanctuary of Al Qaeda before 9/11.

So, how much assistance are other nations contributing to Afghanistan, and how are we doing in rebuilding Afghanistan? From Scotsman.com (hat tip to Captain's Quarters):

"In many ways, Afghanistan is in a worse position now, four years on from the war there, than Iraq is," - [British] Army officer

BRITAIN is set for a U-turn on its commitment to send thousands of troops to fight in Afghanistan next year, with some in the army now questioning whether the mission should be abandoned altogether.

...

[British Cabinet] Ministers hoped British involvement could kick-start the faltering process of rebuilding the country, but their enthusiasm seems to have waned.

...

Opium production in Afghanistan has returned to pre-invasion levels, the police force is in disarray and there is an active and growing insurgency.

It took months of wrangling to persuade other NATO members to agree to supply troops. But one senior officer described the efforts of coalition partners as "shambolic", accusing the Dutch government of demanding United States military protection for its troops before agreeing to send them.

Another officer accused the Germans of a complete failure in their mission to rebuild the country's police force. He said German forces had trained little more than 200 officers in four years, and when the new police force was deployed in Kabul, they had promptly disappeared. ...

"It is going to take years to resolve it and the insurgency is getting worse. It is being squeezed in some places but that simply means it moves to other areas."

...

Under the ARRC plans for next year, Canada is expected to send 2,000 troops but Dutch ministers have postponed a decision on their deployment of 1,000 soldiers until next week, amid concerns about security in the more dangerous southern part of the country.


After the internationally supported invasion of Afghanistan, the U.N. was not able to raise troops. The U.S. turned to NATO, in part to quiet domestic criticism of our unilateralism. However, NATO has provided troops grudgingly, demonstrating the limits of multilateralism. In far less time than Germany has taken to train 200 police officers in Afghanistan, the U.S. has trained over 200,000 security personnel in Iraq.

The news media in the U.S. give little attention to the poor quality of international support in Afghanistan and the difficulty in obtaining that small international contribution. Like it or not, the U.S. is and will be fighting the war on terror with limited international support. We can usually count on Britain and Australia, but not others. Those who criticize the U.S.'s more unilateral effort in Iraq need to examine the less successful, less publicized, and more multilateral effort in Afghanistan. A fair comparison shows a slowly improving situation in Iraq, while Afghanistan seems to be deteriorating with little of the promised international support.

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