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Not that we couldn't have predicted this months ago. Just to put things in an even more depressing perspective, we are sending 4,000 more military trainers --- quite apart from the 18,000+ combat troops we are sending. And Europeans wonder why credible American commentators are calling for us to quit NATO. Kalam fadi...
Gordon Brown was the only one to offer substantial help. He offered to send several hundred extra British soldiers to provide security during the August election, but even that fell short of the thousands of combat troops that the US was hoping to prise from the Prime Minister.
Just two other allies made firm offers of troops. Belgium offered to send 35 military trainers and Spain offered 12. Mr Obama’s host, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused his request.
The derisory response threatened to tarnish Mr Obama’s European tour, which yesterday included a spellbinding performance in Strasbourg in which he offered the world a vision of a future free of nuclear weapons.
Mr Obama – who has pledged 21,000 more troops to combat the growing insurgency and is under pressure from generals to supply up to 10,000 more – used the eve of Nato’s 60th anniversary summit to declare bluntly that it was time for allies to do their share. “Europe should not simply expect the United States to shoulder that burden alone,” he said. “This is a joint problem it requires a joint effort.”
Barack Obama today won agreement for substantial Nato troop reinforcements in Afghanistan, when at least seven European nations, including Britain, said they would send extra troops and logistical help ahead of the presidential elections there in August.
The decision, made at a Nato summit in Strasbourg, will be a profound political relief for the US president, who badly needed to be able to show his domestic audience that his offer of a new style of parternship with Europe could reap tangible results.
The size of the overall temporary reinforcements, apart from those announced by America, was put at up to 5,000, including as many as 600 from Poland.
America and Britain have become increasingly frustrated at the unwillingness of the 28 Nato countries to commit troops to serious fighting against the Taliban in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
The British defence secretary, John Hutton, has said he is expecting a surge in Taliban activity in an attempt to disrupt the elections, the first test of Afghan democracy since 2004.
The countries agreeing to contribute further help, according to European diplomats, include Poland, Spain, Croatia, Greece and the Netherlands. Germany is expected to confirm that it will be sending extra troops to the largely peaceful north of Afghanistan for the election on 22 August.
France is sending a further 150 military police to help train an Afghan civilian police, arguing that last year it announced a large extra deployment.