Obama speech: World Reaction
President Obama announced his strategy for Aghanistan and Pakistan last night in a speech at West Point:
The strategy in a nut shell is as follows:
30,000 troop surge to fight the counter insurgency, with emphasis on the Southern provinces of Hellmand and Kandahar.
A large civilian component to provide governance and reconstruction
An accelerated program of training Afghan Security Forces
A pledge to start withdrawal of US Forces as early as July 2011, depending on the situation on the ground.
The highlighted portion of this story has some of the world reaction to Obama's speech. For the most part it is positive. The NATO Secretary General emphasized that this is not America's war alone and that it now needs the engagement of NATO partners.
While no commitments to additional contributions by NATO forces have been made, some have said that they will wait until after the Afghanistan Conference that has been scheduled by PM Brown of Britain.
Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, welcomed the announcement of additional troops and made the following statement:
"We look forward to furthering our collaboration with the U.S. in order to reach our ultimate and common goal of leaving Afghans an Afghanistan that is better governed, more peaceful and more secure," Cannon said from Brussels, where he will attend a NATO summit meeting.
President Obama's decision to substantially increase the numbers of US forces in the Nato-led operation is proof of his resolve; the overall approach he laid out is a broader political strategy for success. The United States' contribution to the Nato-led mission has always been substantial; it is now even more important.
But this is not a US mission alone: America's allies in Nato have shared the risks, costs and burdens of this mission from the beginning. As the US increases its commitment, I am confident that the other allies, as well as our partners in the mission, will also make
It would appear that the Europeans are still reluctant to send more troops to Afghanistan. Poland, Italy and the UK pledged more troops, while the remainder said they were still studying the speech to see what Obama really said. That seems like an odd statement, since the President according to the White House was on the phone with world leaders yesterday discussing his strategy.
Germany said they were studying the speech and did not rule out additional troops for training the Afghan police.
In commenting on Obama's speech, Westerwelle emphasized that "we Germans are ready to do more in the area of police training, because that is the only route to self-sufficient security, to a handover of responsibilities."
France too emphasized the training aspect of NATO's mission in Afghanistan. Despite ruling out sending more troops to Afghanistan just a few days ago, French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday said that Paris would "look at its contribution to international strategy, giving priority to the training of Afghan security forces."
In response to Obama's clear withdrawal timetable, Rasmussen on Wednesday was at pains to emphasize that the mission was not coming to an abrupt end any time soon. The allegiance's strategy "was not a run for the exit" he said, adding that no one was talking about a date for complete withdrawal. "We will stay as long as it takes to finish our job," he said.
If conditions are right, Obama said U.S. forces could begin leaving Afghanistan in 18 months. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in the country, said the Afghan government and its international partners should use the coming year-and-a-half to convince the Taliban they can’t win and offer militants a way to quit the insurgency "with dignity."
In a statement, the Taliban said the Obama administration’s plan was "no solution for the problems of Afghanistan" and would give insurgents an opportunity "to increase their attacks and shake the American economy, which is already facing crisis."
Obama only set a tentative pullout date for July 2011 to lessen the sensitivities of Afghans about the troop buildup and decrease the American public’s opposition to the war, the Taliban statement said.
"This stratagem will not pay off," it said, adding the surge will result in increased deaths of U.S. troops.
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