03 December 2009

UPDATE 1: You Took Your Time - We're Taking Ours

Update 1: Good news from Secretary Clinton: NATO appears to be pledging up to 7,000 troops from twenty-five member nations. NPR is reporting that WH staffers state that these commitments were made prior to the president's speech. Germany and France are standing pat on waiting for the January conference before committing to any troop increase. It will be interesting to see 3,000 more troops can be whistled up between now and the end of January. If so, Gen. McChrystal's plan would be almost fully staffed. President Obama now seems to accept that the surge plan from Iraq is transportable to Afghanistan.

Previously Posted:
While the Pentagon and President Obama have requested 10,000 additional Afghan-bound troops from NATO members, primarily for training purposes, NATO is likely to provide, at most, 5,000 troops. If the war has lost support here in the United States (to 50% or just under), support in the European public is far lower, and NATO governments have lost patience with President Obama's long decision-making process. Germany and France seem unwilling to answer the president's call until at least January:
'German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm welcomed Obama's timeline for withdrawal saying it was "correct and sensible." But on the question of whether Germany would send more troops, he preferred to point to the Afghanistan conference set to take place at the end of January in London. After the conference, Germany will decide "whether and if so what kind of additional efforts we might undertake." ... German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also pointed to the January conference. "Obama also took his time to work out the speech and his strategy and we will take our own time to assess what he said and discuss this with our allies," he said. Indeed, the only countries which immediately offered to up their troop contingent were Britain, Poland and Italy. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the UK would send an additional 500 troops with Poland likely to up its contribution to 2,600 from 2,000. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country would send more as well, but avoided a concrete pledge, saying only that Rome would "do a lot."'
Reaction to the President's speech at West Point was mixed, and the latest major polls were taken prior to the speech, making it difficult to gauge it's effect on the American public. Spiegel Online has openly reflected Europe's disenchantment with Obama Administration leadership. One can only hope that they'll pony-up in the long run, or the new Afghan strategy will prove just as flawed as the old.

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