NATO's Afghan Quagmire
NATO’s mission in Afghanistan has the
potential to become one of the greatest tests for the transatlantic
alliance since the end of the Cold War. Following the US-led
invasion of the country in 2001, NATO member states willingly
provided troops and material support to the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF), tasked with stabilizing the country.
In 2003, NATO assumed the command of ISAF forces as its first
ever “out-of-area” mission outside Europe. Ever
since, the security situation in Afghanistan has notably deteriorated,
the opium trade has flourished, and reconstruction efforts
have floundered. Indeed, by 2008, ISAF seemed to be back to
fighting a hot-war with a resurgent Taliban in the vast majority
of the Afghan territory.
This brief provides an
overview of NATO’s mission and strategy in Afghanistan.
It explores the deep divisions within the alliance when it
comes to Afghanistan and the impact they have had on ISAF’s
mission. What do they tell us about the cohesiveness of the
transatlantic alliance and the future of NATO? Has the Afghanistan
experience provided a new unity of purpose, or further divided
the alliance? Finally, the brief considers the plans of the
new US administration to reform the Afghanistan mission and
the prospects for NATO to extract itself from its Afghan quagmire.
- NATO’s Mission in Afghanistan
- Fighting Different Wars?
- National Caveats
- Raising Troops
- Unity of Command
- Rules of Engagement
- Future Prospects and Policy Implications