Sunday, April 05, 2009

Obama comes up empty

On the good war, Obama's charm and magic has limited appeal.

NY Times: Europeans Offer Few New Troops for Afghanistan
The Afghan war, too, remained a dividing line for alliance leaders. Despite a glowing reception and widespread praise for Mr. Obama’s style and aims, his calls for a more lasting European troop increase for Afghanistan were politely brushed aside, as they had been in negotiations leading up to the meeting.

As expected, European allies agreed to provide up to 5,000 new troops for Afghanistan, the White House said Saturday. But 3,000 of them are to be deployed only temporarily to provide security for the August elections in Afghanistan.

A further 1,400 to 2,000 soldiers will be sent to form embedded training teams for the Afghan Army and the police.

Mr. Obama is raising the number of American troops this year to about 68,000 from the current 38,000, which will significantly Americanize the war. The new strategy, which the Europeans have pressed for, is aimed at creating larger and better-trained Afghan security forces that can defend the country and allow the West to leave.

Much of Mr. Obama’s Afghanistan strategy review, which he formally presented to NATO leaders this weekend, reflects the view of a number of administration officials, particularly Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., that the United States should set limited, achievable goals in Afghanistan.

“No one will say this publicly, but the true fact is that we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan,” a senior European diplomat said Saturday. “We are getting out. It may take a couple of years, but we are all looking to get out.” He spoke on the condition of anonymity under diplomatic rules.

For Mr. Obama, in many ways, the two months since he took office have been a reality check on the difference between Europe’s vocal support and action.

In January, Obama administration officials expressed optimism that they would receive strong backing from European allies on a large number of additional troops for Afghanistan.
Remember this about Europe -- They're always there when they need us.

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