Violence and Rifts

by Joshua Foust on 11/27/2006

When the Afghanistan campaign first began, Donald Rumsfeld was bragging about how much his force transformation had affected the military—we can accomplish so much with just a few special forces units and good air support, all cleverly networked together into a cohesive fighting force! This was coupled with a shift in American foreign policy along the lines of Thomas Barnett’s “leviathan” and “sysadmin” forces, in which Americans were meant to do the dirty work of killing the bad men while the Europeans took on the peace building. It was all wonderful unicorn dust, until pesky reality poked its head in: bombing a country like Afghanistan will not automatically win the war, and handing out peace flyers will not automatically win the war.

Yesterday, as news of yet another deadly suicide bombing from the border region raises new fears of attack, it seems more obvious than ever before that the NATO alliance is slowly splintering under the weight of the Afghan campaign. It turns out, Americans don’t much like being the sole autonomous combat force in the country, and several of the European militaries don’t like even being peacekeeper troops. Both sides want massive change—Americans want more European combat, several European forces, like Germany, are contemplating withdrawal—and the disagreements over this deployment are sparking a growing rift between American and European interests.

Both Europe and the U.S. have a strategic interest in securing Afghanistan and preventing its decent into an anarchic state. That they so deeply disagree over how this can best be accomplished (with reality, as always, being somewhere between the two extremes) is disheartening.

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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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