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We're Waiting, Mr. President: Obama Must Provide Better Leadership on Afghanistan

Saturday, October 31, 2009



By Claus Christian Malzahn
Spiegel
Photo: AP


Afghanistan and Pakistan are being shaken by attacks, and the Taliban is dictating the course of the war. US President Obama has been silent about the situation for far too long and European countries like Germany and France are correct to demand better American leadership on the issue of Afghanistan.

The most important piece of news from the most recent meeting of NATO defense ministers was that there was no news.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pointed out the dangers of failure on the part of the Western military alliance in Afghanistan. The war effort is already underfunded to the tune of several hundred million euros. Nevertheless, the costs of defeat will be much higher than the costs of the mission, Rasmussen said at the NATO summit in Bratislava, Slovakia last week.

His warnings fell on deaf ears, with only Great Britain agreeing to a slight increase in troop strength. All other NATO defense ministers, including, of course, the German defense minister, remained politely aloof when it came time to make commitments.

For once, this hesitation cannot be attributed to widespread war fatigue in Europe. The mission in Afghanistan is seen as a toxic issue in all Western nations, and every government that has provided troops has come under sharp criticism at home. What the US's NATO allies now find far more irritating is US President Barack Obama's silence on the issue....(Remainder.)

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