In my latest for The National Interest, I argue that, despite the constant urging otherwise by former Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO can survive failing in Afghanistan.
The piece is exclusive but here are two brief excerpts:
Quite naturally, citizens in free societies do not want to send their troops to fight and die unless the cause is just and the danger is enormous. This leads to the unfortunate tendency for democratic leaders to oversell war efforts—and undersell the dangers—to rally public support. Recall George H. W. Bush’s touting Saddam Hussein as “Hitler revisited,” Bill Clinton’s promise that American troops would remain in Bosnia no more than a year, or George W. Bush’s cherry-picking the intelligence on Saddam’s WMD and warning of “mushroom clouds.”
[T]he fact of the matter is that NATO went to war in Afghanistan, invoking Article V’s declaration that an “attack against one” shall be “considered an attack against them all” in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban government that sheltered al-Qaeda has been ousted and hundreds of the terrorist group’s leaders have been killed. The original mission has long since morphed into an incredibly ambitious nation-building exercise with murky goals.
NATO would never have achieved consensus on undertaking such a mission, even in the emotional wake of 9/11. Why, then, should its future rest on its achievement?
Much more at the link.
James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.