Europe and the Afghan Troop Increase

A lot of people have been questioning the timing of President Barack Obama’s announcement of a troop increase for Afghanistan. Obama had already delayed his decision by a few weeks, and some, like Joe Klein, wondered why he didn’t wait for the outcome of his much-heralded strategic reassessment. James Joyner doesn’t connect the dots, but his write-up of yesterday’s NATO defense ministers’ summit suggests a speculative explanation to Obama’s Tuesday announcement:

As widely foreshadowed, the United States used the occasion of ameeting of NATO defense ministers in Warsaw to call on its Europeanallies to contribute more troops and resources to the Afghanistanmission and, to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention,they refused.

I’d had my eye on April’s NATO heads of state summit for Obama to make his move, so the Krakow meeting snuck up on me. But if you’re looking for a reason for the abrupt announcement, this seems like a good place to start. Ditto for the impact the announcement is likely to have in Europe. In a best-case scenario, Obama can count on roughly 1500-2000 additional troops, combined, from Europe. Anything else, we’re going to have to shoulder on our own. Hopefully that will be taken into account by the strategic reassessment.

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