Afghanistan Clock Ticking

Afghanistan Clock

From James Joyner, the New Atlanticist:  The Netherlands became the first NATO member to quit Afghanistan Sunday, when it withdrew its 1955 troops.    ISAF will survive the tactical loss, which amounts to a rounding error in the daily muster, but the symbolism is quite another matter. …

Canada’s 2700 troops will follow the Dutch example in 2011 and Poland’s 2600 in 2012.

Thus far, Europe’s Big 3 are making firm declarations that they’re committed to success.

New British prime minister David Cameron has been adamant that the mission is important.   He’s saying all the right things about "conditions on the ground."  But he’s signaled that he wants the UK out by 2015.  And his secretary of state for defence, Liam Fox,  says the Afghans ought take full responsibility by 2014.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has been working feverishly to counter public backlash against the war, calling withdrawal at this time "irresponsible."  But 62 percent of her countrymen were against the war even before the embarrassing revelations of the WikiLeaks scandal. …

French MOD Herve Morin declared just yesterday that, "The French army must stay because there is no other solution" and that "what’s at stake in Afghanistan is the stability of the region."

While the commitment of our European Allies gets the most attention, America’s is far from set in stone.   There is, after all, President Obama’s mysterious July 2011 deadline.   What happens on that date?  No one seems to know.   There will be a strategic review this December — by which point very little is likely to have changed — with a decision on where to go from there to follow.

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.

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