Afghanistan Might Be Our Fight Alone

In our war in Afghanistan, it looks as though we might have to finish it alone.

President Barack Obama met with European leaders at the G-20 summit meeting and is currently touring France in his first major overseas trip as president. Before the start of the summit, both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed with Obama’s plan to send more troops to Afghanistan, but did not go as far as to promise that they would provide some of the personnel.

Ever since the October 2001 invasion of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, U.S. and coalition troops have tirelessly pursued Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents all throughout the region. Recently the fighting has spilled over into neighboring Pakistan, a country not known for stability itself. Obama has said that winning the war in Afghanistan is crucial for protecting America from Islamic terrorism and a rebirth of al-Qaeda.

Today U.S. and NATO forces are struggling to bring stability to the sparsely populated outer regions near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The former Bush administration has been accused of diverting America’s military attention away from Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 and toward Iraq, a battle many Americans believe is not part of the larger “War on Terror.”

Obama promised 17,000 additional troops for the war effort but has not specifically addressed how our NATO allies will contribute. There seems to be apprehension on their part to continue a war that is becoming increasingly more unpopular around the world.

Sarkozy and Merkel promised to help in the effort, but did not commit any troops to be part of it. What has been promised is increased assistance in training Afghan police and military forces.

“We have a great responsibility here. We want to carry our share of the responsibility, militarily, in the area of civil reconstruction and in police training,” Merkel said.

If any “surge” in Afghanistan is to happen, count on us Yankees to carry a majority of the burden. Europe looks unsure, especially in today’s shaky economy, that they want to participate in any long armed conflict overseas.

This could go back to the days of World War II. Violence is much more taboo over there than it is here. Europe has a much darker and harsher history of war than America. The last time a war was fought on U.S. soil was the Pearl Harbor invasion of 1941. Even that was not nearly as dramatic as having two world wars going on in your own backyard.

Obama is quickly learning that America is becoming more and more isolated in the world. What political leverage we once had is either slipping away or is on temporary hiatus. Eight years of George W. Bush certainly did not help. With rising powers in China and India (and, of course, the European Union), growing leftist movements in Latin America, a reemergence of Russian power, and talk in Africa to form a “United States of Africa,” we Americans are losing our identity. We’re having an identity crisis of post-Cold War proportions.

America losing its superpower status is certainly a favorite subject of the global media and academia. This current economic crisis might tip us over the edge, but our inability to convince our European allies to help us fight a “just” war cannot look good. Remember right after 9/11 when then-French President Jacques Chirac said “We are all Americans?” A Frenchmen saying that? You better believe it.

Maybe NATO feels itself overstretched and weary of already contributing plenty of troops for the war in Afghanistan. But nevertheless, no one can doubt that in order to end this conflict and allow for U.S. and coalition forces to pull out, taking the fight to the enemy will be our job alone.

We cannot expect the all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to ride over the hills and come to our aid to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. As Michael Corleone said in “The Godfather Part II,” always remember to keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

America may have to rethink its role in the world before it can hope to have friends again.

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