The firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal shone the global spotlight on Afghanistan when most of the world was pretty happy ignoring what has - or has not - been going on there.
Here's everything I know about our Afghan strategy: If we could trust the Karzai government not to let the Taliban turn the place into band camp for terrorists again, we'd be out of there by Labor Day.
But the collateral effects of the McChrystal deal has more to do with our allies, than with our enemies. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which is a largely NATO/UN/US operation has, according to ISAF's web page 46 nations contributing about 119,500 troops.
Not surprisingly, the largest chunk are U.S. service personnel (78,000). In case you were wondering, Greece has 70 troops there, which might be a significant proportion of its total standing Army.
One problem is, every country is having severe budget issues and there is no single bigger expense than keeping a soldier in a war zone - with the possible exception of building and maintaining the aircraft which supports him or her. In fact, a Wall Street Journal article being published in Friday mornings editions leads with:
"European governments' budget-slashing efforts are expected to cut deep into the Continent's defense spending, widening the gulf between U.S. and European military capabilities."
Although the article points out that "tight finances don't appear likely to affect European deployment to Afghanistan, in the short term" there doesn't seem to be anything "short term" about Afghanistan.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a McChrystal moment last month when the German President (a largely ceremonial office) had to resign after saying that "German soldiers serving in Afghanistan or with other peacekeeping missions were deployed to protect German economic interests."
What he meant to say was they were deployed to protect the human rights of the Afghan people and to protect the world from the spread of terrorism. But he slipped and said it was for economic reasons.
In the UK, according to the German publication, Der Welle,
"Britain's conservative-liberal government took office two months ago saying Afghanistan was its top foreign policy priority. The government has since made noises about withdrawing its 9,500 troops but has yet to suggest a timeframe."
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