PrintPrint CiteCite
Style: MLAAPAChicago Close


Afghanistan Seen As Crucial Test

Author: James M. Goldgeier, Dean, School of International Service, American University
March 22, 2009
Washington Times


As NATO members prepare to celebrate the alliance's 60th anniversary next month, many observers on both sides of the Atlantic have been warning that Afghanistan is a critical test that NATO must pass if it is to adapt successfully to the 21st century. Unfortunately, as an alliance, NATO has already failed in Afghanistan. And President Obama's decision to add 17,000 additional troops to the conflict is a signal that the re-Americanization of the warfighting effort has begun.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the situation NATO finds itself in as it confronts a dangerous insurgency in Afghanistan. The allies invoked Article V, the collective defense pledge that lies at NATO's core, in solidarity with the United States after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Rather than run the initial Afghanistan operation through NATO, however, as the United States had done in 1999 in Kosovo, the Bush administration chose to put together a coalition of the willing.

Only in 2003, as the administration became mired in the postwar reconstruction in Iraq, did the United States ask NATO to play a substantial role, taking over the International Security Assistance Force that then provided for peacekeeping in the Afghan capital, Kabul. By then, Europe had grown resentful of American policies, undermining alliance solidarity.

Over time, the need for the alliance to do more increased dramatically, as the Taliban regained its strength throughout significant parts of the country. But NATO has been unable as a group to respond militarily.

View full text of article.

More on This Topic