On the heels of John Kerry's accusation that the Bush administration has "cut and run" in Afghanistan, I find myself scratching my head in bewilderment that not one media pundit has pointed out the obvious... da US isn't the security king pin in Afghanistan,, NATO and the UN have command of keeping Afghanistan secure.
NATO took command and co-ordination of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in August 2003. ISAF is NATO's first mission outside the Euro-Atlantic area. ISAF operates in Afghanistan under a UN mandate and will continue to operate according to current and future UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. ISAF’s mission was initially limited to Kabul. Resolution 1510 passed by the UNSC on 13 October 2003 opened the way to a wider role for ISAF to support the Government of Afghanistan beyond Kabul.
What is the aim of the operation?
ISAF's role is to assist the Government of Afghanistan and the International Community in maintaining security within its area of operation. ISAF supports the Government of Afghanistan in expanding its authority to the rest of the country, and in providing a safe and secure environment conducive to free and fair elections, the spread of the rule of law, and the reconstruction of the country.
Just to make things a little more clear.... on July 31st of this year, months prior to the recent rise in violence, NATO proudly boasts they took command of the international military forces in southern Afghanistan from the US-led Coalition.
Does this leave any questions in your mind as to whom is in control in Afghanistan?
As usual, the UN and NATO take credit for the historic creation of a democratic government and it's elections, and various other successes. It is also usual that the UN and NATO do not take the blame for the current rebirth of a new Taliban revolt.
It follows, of course, that the US gets no credit for the new government, and US partisan politicians are quick to assign the blame to the Bush admin for NATO's failure to keep Afghanistan "secure". Ya just can't win with these folks. It's Kerry's beloved int'l community who has dropped the ball there, not the US.
But where is the press with the facts? MIA, for the most part, as usual. Same ol', same ol'....
But one Canadian reporter at the Toronto Sun almost gets it.
Tim Harper leads off with the accusatory headline, "U.S. 'handed off a mess' to NATO forces", followed by sundry Congressional types' soundbite critiques. The list of usual suspects with a few surprises that jump in, driven by the polls and election mindset.
What is buried at the bottom is is a couple of cries of foul by the Brookings and GlobalSecurity.com organizations. Those who are cautious to lay the blame at the feet of the US military without acknowledging UN failures.
Michael O'Hanlon, an analyst with the centrist Brookings Institution, said there was clearly a shortage of U.S. troops and properly trained Afghan soldiers, but not all the blame can be laid at the feet of Bush.
"As much as we appreciate the effort of the Canadians, the French, the Germans and others who did not support the Iraq war," O'Hanlon said, "it is only now that the NATO contribution is approaching the U.S. force size in Afghanistan. These are countries with a combined population and combined military larger than the U.S., and they are not preoccupied with Iraq.
"I think some of the blame has to rest with the allies."'
John Pike at globalsecurity.org — while acknowledging that Canada and its NATO allies have been handed a mess — does not lay the blame with U.S. military planners.
"This mess was really of the Taliban's making,'' Pike said.
"For someone to say it turned into a mess because of U.S. neglect, because Washington was too focused on Iraq, that's just a talking point.
"It's a sentence, but you can't complete the paragraph because you can't explain what the U.S. mistakes were."
Yes, Pike says, the U.S. reallocated some of its special operations forces from Afghanistan to Iraq, but he doesn't believe that made a huge difference. "Afghanistan may have been under the radar in Washington, but it wasn't under the radar for the U.S. military," he says.
It's not much... but it's all we've got. And from a Canuck, to boot.