Clinton pushes NATO allies for united strategy on Afghanistan
The Secretary of State also calls for a 'fresh start' with Russia.
(Page 2 of 3)
Allies advocated strengthening a NATO-Russia council, which NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters is "not a fair weather body" – and should be used to discuss "everything," including Russian troops considered to be illegally deployed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But Afghanistan was the hot underlying issue in Brussels. In Pakistan's Swat Valley, recently ceded to Taliban forces by Pakistan, the Taliban are already appointing civil servants, acting with impunity against civilians, and cranking up heavy new propaganda machinery via FM radio. The secretary began consulting on a nearly finished US strategy for the NATO Afghan deployment.
Europeans, despite enthusiasm for Barack Obama, are skeptical about more NATO troops for Afghanistan, especially lacking a clear strategy. Clinton's visit comes in tandem with Mr. Biden, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who visits NATO next Tuesday on that Afghan strategy.
Sources close to the State Department say the new strategy is likely to reenergize a broad Afghan-Pakistan regional approach, with a set of more tightly focused but downsized goals. The previous goal to "democratize" Afghanistan will probably shift toward "efficient" and "achievable" stabilization – avoiding an open-ended mission, but requiring more immediate "heavy lifting" by allies. The strategy will require more troops to achieve a balance of military and civilian help, but also to bring in India, Iran, Russia, and even China.
"You need a buy-in on the strategy by allies," says one US diplomat in Europe. "If you are Europe, and you don't believe in the strategy, you offer cosmetic help, but you don't make life--and-death decisions and commitments in Afghanistan."
Troop contributions were not discussed in Brussels. Mr. Scheffer said it was a meeting of foreign ministers, "not a troop-pledging meeting." But he said more troops are needed even if a new strategy emphasizes civil reconstruction.
Britain, France, and Germany have appointed special envoys to the region, in the manner of President Obama's choice of Richard Holbrooke. But in general, the Europeans have been waiting for the US plan, expected this month, rather than taking a proactive stance.