Afghanistan and the Future of NATO

While the war in Iraq has been based on wishful thinking, Western intervention in Afghanistan was necessary and unavoidable, because it was there that the terrorist threat of September 11, 2001, originated. But a lack of commitment and political foresight is jeopardizing the West's successes – and thus NATO’s future as well.

Things aren’t going well in Afghanistan. Sometime at the turn of 2001/2002, the Bush administration concluded that the stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan was no longer its top priority and decided to bet instead on military-led regime change in Iraq. Afghanistan can thus rightly be seen as the first victim of the administration’s misguided strategy.

But the Bush administration is not the sole culprit for the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. It was NATO’s job to ensure the country’s stability and security, and thus NATO’s weak General Secretary and the European allies, especially Germany and France, share the responsibility for the worsening situation.

Yet, despite all the difficulties, the situation in Afghanistan, unlike that in Iraq, is not hopeless. There was a good reason for going to war in Afghanistan in the first place, because the attacks of September 11, 2001, originated there. Once undertaken, the West’s intervention ended an almost uninterrupted civil war, and is still viewed with approval by a majority of the population. Finally, unlike in Iraq, the intervention did not fundamentally rupture the inner structure of the Afghan state or threaten its very cohesion.

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