Following an unexpected visit by Gen. Stanley McChrystal to the NATO Defense Ministers’ meeting in Bratislava, the assembled ministers reportedly endorsed the McChrystal Plan, which calls for up to 80,000 additional American troops to fight the war in Afghanistan.
The news was yet another defeat for the so-called Biden Plan, an alternative strategy involving the dramatic escalation of air strikes in Afghanistan neighboring Pakistan while trimming back the nation-building goals of the conflict. Adherents of the plan, backed by Vice President Joe Biden, are reportedly irked by Gen. McChrystal’s constant politicking in favor of his plan and public mocking of the Biden version.
The assembled NATO members also agreed on another thing: that the current strategy in Afghanistan is simply not working. After over eight years of conflict, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance needs “a much broader strategy whicch stabilises the whole Afghan society.” As enamored as the assembled officials seemed to be with McChrystal’s plan, the general is offering roughly the same strategy with massive increases in troops.
And while the NATO members embraced the US escalation, they were largely non-commital on whether or not they intended to send any additional troops of their own. The US is responsible for the vast majority of the forces in Afghanistan, and the growing unpopularity of the war makes escalation a difficult proposition to sell to the voting public in virtually every NATO nation.