As President Obama continues in earnest with his promised military “surge” in Afghanistan, which will double the number of American forces on the ground, it was expected that NATO would enhance its commitment to the seven year long military commitment as well. That seems increasingly unlikely.
Indeed, most European leaders have promised at best only meager numbers of additional troops, and many have ruled out sending troops at all. US officials say they remain hopeful that President Obama’s popularity in Europe (as opposed to his hated predecessor) will eventually lead them to provide more troops, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has told the Senate that some of the nation “have been sitting on a capability so that they could give the new president something when he asks.”
But signs are that the unpopularity of the war internationally has far outstripped any good will for the new administration has built up, and foreign leaders will still have to pay a political cost for an increased military commitment. With these governments already reeling from the international financial crisis, it seems a price few can afford.
What does this mean in the end? When the United States doubles its Afghanistan force, it will see little meaningful increase from its allies, leaving it responsible for an ever greater portion of the war, and leaving open the possibility that, much like in Iraq, the American military will eventually be left holding the bag on its own.