Thursday, December 9, 2010

EU troops 'only to bow to what US wants'

EU doubts Afghanistan success: WikiLeaks files
CBC News: Leaked memos show European Union President Herman Van Rompuy told the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, Howard Gutman, that the EU no longer believes in the success of the military mission in Afghanistan.

Van Rompuy, a former Belgian prime minister, suggested European troops are still being deployed only to bow to what the United States wants.

'Europe is doing it and will go along out of deference to the United States, but not out of deference to Afghanistan,' he is quoted as saying in a cable posted by the WikiLeaks website [December 5]. In the 2009 memo, Van Rompuy is reported to have said the EU will wait until the end of 2010 to see whether progress is made in Afghanistan.

'No one believes in Afghanistan any more. But we will give it 2010 to see results. If it doesn't work, that will be because it is the last chance. And if a Belgian gets killed, it would be over for Belgium right then,' he says.

Norman Spector, in The Globe and Mail: On the Guardian's front page, we read: 'Britain's four-year military stewardship of the troubled Helmand province has been scorned by President Hamid Karzai, top Afghan officials and the U.S. commander of NATO troops, according to secret US diplomatic cables.' After reading this article about troops that have taken a very high rate of casualties in Afghanistan, my immediate reaction was to wonder what these same Afghans and Americans thought about the sacrifices that have been made by Canadian troops. Sadly, I found an answer of sorts in a brief squib on page 5 of the Guardian:

'Non-U.S. troops can stay home' is the headline in a cable recording a meeting Hamid Karzai had with the U.S. ambassador and Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, at the end of 2009. Showing his strong preference for U.S. soldiers, in the Afghan president's view the 7,000 extra troops promised by NATO allies as part of the troop surge in 2010 were more trouble than they were worth.

Karzai jokes that it would be better if the countries announced extra troops but did not send them as their contributions were more of a 'headache' than a help. 'Admiral Mullen noted the political significance of these troop commitments, despite the challenges they might entail.'

Some joke. And, from the Americans, more cynicism than some might imagine.
Image source here.