NATO allies wavering in Afghanistan
NATO members are wavering in their political commitment to Afghanistan, one of the alliance's top commanders said on Monday, describing the nearly seven-year-old campaign against the Taliban as disjointed. Pointing to more than 70 "caveats" that gave individual countries a veto over certain operations, and the fact that troop commitments remained unfulfilled, General John Craddock said he was fearful the operation was being short-changed.The American are joined by Iran in their resistance to talks with the Taliban:
"We are demonstrating a political will that is in my judgment sometimes wavering," Craddock, a U.S. general and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said in a speech to policymakers and defense analysts in London. "It's this wavering political will that impedes operational progress and brings into question the relevance of the alliance here in the 21st century."
Craddock told Sky Afghan reconstruction and development was moving ahead slowly and needed to be more coherent.
"I do not think we are losing, we are not winning fast enough," Sky's website quoted him as saying. "Security is at a stalemate. Governance is stuck top dead center."
In his earlier speech, Craddock defended the view expressed by Britain's outgoing commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, that the Taliban could not be defeated and insurgents needed to be drawn into dialogue.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned the West on Sunday not to push for talks with the Taliban militia which had stormy relations with Tehran when it ruled Afghanistan up to 2001.Iran was a major backer of Afghan opposition to the Taliban? It was only last year that the US said it had "irrefutable proof" that Iran was arming the Taliban. I guess that turned out to be an obvious lie, though you'd never guess it to read news account from that time.
"Today, the whole world knows about the strategic failure of foreign forces in Afghanistan and we advise them not to try a new failure," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference. "We advise them to think about the consequences of the talks (with the Taliban) which are taking place in the region and in Europe and avoid being bitten in the same spot twice," Mottaki said, citing a Persian proverb.
The Afghan government denied the report but President Hamid Karzai has long called for talks with the Taliban on condition that they accept his government's constitution and are not involved with Al-Qaeda. The hardline Sunni Taliban had hostile relations with Shiite Iran, which was a major backer of the Afghan opposition to the militia's rule.
To sum up: the Afghan government and America's NATO allies want to negotiate a truce with the Taliban, but Iran and the United States stand opposed to any compromise. NATO's military effort has stalled, and the US has dishonest about the source of the Taliban's weapons. In reality, the Taliban were being armed by elements within the Pakistani security forces, which in turn were being supplied by the United States. So is it any wonder that many NATO nations are considering withdrawal from Afghanistan?
If a military alliance can't hold together in a war, then what is the purpose of the alliance? The Bush administration wants to expand NATO to include Georgia and other former Soviet states, but how could our new allies rely on the alliance in a confrontation with Russia when the alliance fails against a relatively weak foe like the Taliban?
The bottom line is that the Bush administration's intransigence on the issue of peace talks and its unwillingness to commit enough force to win in Afghanistan is undermining America's strategy to contain Russian, and threatening its most important military alliance.
Meanwhile, the war continues to take its bloody toll:
Police and government officials in Kandahar are accusing the Taliban of slaughtering nearly 30 civilians - some of whom were decapitated - in a brazen bus attack staged outside the city. However, a spokesman for the Taliban, which yesterday took responsibility for the gruesome killings, said the attacks were made because passengers were members of the Afghan National Army.(cross posted at appletree)
The attacks took place last Thursday, but officials learned of the attacks only yesterday.