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NATO Is Losing in Afghanistan

Written by Cliff Kincaid

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April 4, 2008
by Cliff Kincaid

Forget about Iraq for a minute. We are losing the war in Afghanistan.

The big news out of the recent NATO summit was that some European nations balked at accepting new members that would offend Russia. But the bigger story is that NATO’s war against the terrorists in Afghanistan is failing and it has no plan to win. Afghanistan could once again come under the control of those who sponsored 9/11.

Afghanistan, of course, is where the 9/11 terrorists had their base of operations. The U.S. attacked Osama bin Laden and his Taliban backers, eliminating or driving them into hiding, but depended on NATO to finish the job. NATO has failed. 

The NATO summit statement says that the “UN mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission” in Afghanistan, which is the NATO force and currently comprises 40 nations, is a “top priority” and that the alliance and its Afghan partners will not allow “extremists and terrorists to regain control of Afghanistan or use it as a base for terror that threatens all of our people.”

This “top priority” has now been translated to mean that France will send an additional 700-1000 troops to Afghanistan, and that other nations may provide “smaller numbers.” Whatever that means, it’s not much. It’s certainly not enough to win.

An inquisitive journalist named Andrew Gray of Reuters reports that it’s not exactly clear how many NATO troops are actually in Afghanistan, and that the organization sometimes “revises” the numbers dramatically. The NATO website doesn’t say exactly how many are supposed to be there, and which nations are contributing what numbers. In any case, Gray notes that U.S. Army Gen. McNeill, the ISAF commander, has suggested that “a force of well over 400,000 Afghan and foreign troops” is needed to fight the terrorists there.

McNeil used that figure in an interview with a German magazine and explained that “The Afghans say that they have 22,000 on the rolls of their army and 42,000 police. NATO has about 39,000 troops here, so that totals a good 100,000.” During a February 6 briefing at the Pentagon, the ISAF force was put at “over 40,000.” It has been as high as 47,000. About 17,000 of those are American troops. Another 14,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan operate independently of NATO.

At that briefing, McNeil repeated the theoretical need for 400,000 troops, saying, “If you use U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, for example, and applying the factors of land mass and population, you’d come to the conclusion you need a huge force, well over 400,000, when you rolled up international force with the indigenous force.” He went on to say, “Now, having said that, the members of the alliance are going to produce only so much. I accept that.”

But should we accept it?

This debacle appears to validate a Democratic point that the U.S. lost sight of the original terrorist problem in Afghanistan when it went to war in Iraq. But the Democratic presidential candidates, as well as Republican John McCain, make the situation worse by saying that they will somehow get NATO to send more troops to Afghanistan. They are claiming that they will succeed where President Bush has failed.

One problem is that there are 15,000 NATO troops making sure that the new Muslim state of Kosovo has international protection when they should be fighting Muslim extremists in Afghanistan. Recognition of Kosovo is a policy embraced by Bush, Hillary, Obama and McCain.

NATO leaders declared at the summit that “We reiterate that KFOR [the NATO Kosovo Force] will remain in Kosovo on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244 to ensure a safe and secure environment, including freedom of movement, for all people in Kosovo unless the Security Council decides otherwise.”

But UNSCR 1244 recognized Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo. So when various NATO nations, including the U.S., recognized Kosovo statehood, that move was a violation of UNSCR 1244. It’s too bad that journalists covering the summit didn’t point out that fact.

The NATO summit declaration goes on to say that “NATO reaffirms its faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations” and that “The primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rests with the United Nations Security Council.” This wording reflects the fact that NATO is a regional organization under the U.N. Charter. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon himself participated in the NATO Bucharest summit.

Hence, a failing NATO is putting its trust in a corrupt and discredited U.N. This “New World Order” is quickly becoming a tragic comedy of errors that risks a major defeat in the war on terror.

The NATO debacles in Afghanistan and Kosovo demonstrate the great danger of relying on global alliances to accomplish U.S. military objectives. But to make matters even worse,

NATO invited Albania at the Bucharest summit to join the organization, even though Albania is the main source of the Kosovo problem. Albanian Muslims took over Kosovo through infiltration and immigration.

As if the debacles in Kosovo and Afghanistan aren’t enough, NATO is also threatening to get more involved militarily in Darfur. It says, “We remain deeply concerned by the continued violence and atrocities in Darfur and call on all parties to cease hostilities. NATO remains ready, following consultation with and the agreement of the United Nations and the African Union (AU), to support their peacekeeping efforts in the region. At the request of the African Union, NATO has agreed to provide support to the AU Mission in Somalia and we are prepared to consider further requests for support to this mission.”

NATO can’t win in Afghanistan but wants to get more involved in other areas of the world. Does this make any sense? It’s almost as if the organization is committed to so overextending itself that it will inevitably fail.

It’s time for our media to follow Andrew Gray’s lead and tell the complete truth about a dysfunctional organization that can’t or won’t come to grips with its own failures.

 Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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