President Barack Obama’s attempt to secure firm commitments of significant additional troops from NATO allies to help in the planned escalation in Afghanistan was, by any objective measure, an abject failure. He got no combat troops, and only the most temporary commitments to send police and training personnel to help with the elections. Don’t tell that to the president, however.
Today, he lauded the very guarded commitments as “strong and unanimous support,” and praised NATO members for making a “strong down payment” in Afghanistan. The Obama Administration has pledged tens of thousands of additional troops for Afghanistan, in addition to massive increases in civilian aid.
Between the enthusiastic praise from European leaders and a foreign press falling over itself to cover the visit in a glowing light, it is hard to blame Obama for perceiving the trip as a dramatic success. Yet if one examines the bottom line, the lip service came with very little material support, and leaves the United States in largely the same situation as last week – unilateral escalation and the prospect of, as in Iraq, having to do more and more of the war-fighting on their own.