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Nato is in crisis as troop plan lies in tatters

This article is over 14 years, 8 months old
The governments of Gordon Brown and Barack Obama are both in the grip of a growing crisis over Afghanistan.
Issue 2178

The governments of Gordon Brown and Barack Obama are both in the grip of a growing crisis over Afghanistan.

Against the backdrop of rising opposition to the war, the ruling class is increasingly split over how to take their strategy forward.

Brown’s growing desperation was reflected in the mixed messages he sent out during the last week.

He attempted to shore up support for the war by ratcheting up the rhetoric and promising that Nato forces will never “succumb to appeasement” in Afghanistan.

But at the same time, he has raised the prospect of a timetable for Western withdrawal, touting plans for a “district by district” handover to Afghan security forces.

This is not a plan for less bloodshed or more democracy, but a failed attempt to play to both sides of the argument.

And, as many military sources admit, the plan is unworkable—there is no coherent or reliable Afghan security force to hand over to.

The British chief of the defence staff Sir David Richards predicted last month that British forces would be fighting on the frontline for at least another five years—and probably another five years after that before a handover may be possible.


Meanwhile, the US political and military establishment is split between those who want to send more troops and a growing number who want to find an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Obama and Brown’s credibilities, and that of the occupation, hang in the balance.

The debacle of the recent fraudulent “elections” in Afghanistan has undermined any claims that the occupation is having a positive impact.

And the growing death toll of Afghan people and Western troops means the tide has turned against this war.

The splits at the top give us a chance to press home the message that Nato forces are making things worse in Afghanistan.

The only solution to the developing crisis is to get the troops out now.

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