April 05, 2009

Euro-Troops in Afghanistan: The U.S. Perception

Yesterday we noted the difference between the Times and the Guardian over European commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The two big Sunday newspapers in the United States, meanwhile, were more downbeat. Headlines from The New York Times and The Washington Post were, respectively, "Europeans Offer Few New Troops for Afghanistan" (online) and "NATO Backs Obama's Afghan Plan but Pledges Few New Troops" (A12).

Both U.S. papers just cited are, roughly speaking, center-left papers. So if the perception of their reporters and editors is that Europe is not fully backing its American allies in Afghanistan, it is safe to assume that's also the opinion of more conservative media in the United States. (Such as the Wall Street Journal, which does not publish on Sundays.) And Guardian readers and editors should be aware of that, because this perception, I would argue, has long-term consequences for NATO and the trans-Atlantic partnership.

Update: Not really related to the post, but A.A. Gill has an amusing op-ed in today's NYT. Highlights:

You often wonder what visiting dignitaries make of your country; American presidents must think that the whole world is in a constant state of riot. Wherever they go, CNN is full of angry banners, burning flags and tear gas. I went and joined the London riot. It was depressingly flabby, and half-hearted. Not so much a demonstration as a queue of arcane special pleading groups, ranging from anarchists for bicycles (who all waited politely at the traffic lights) and one-world vegans. Altogether, they looked like a collective of European street mimes.


The truth is that the French have never really got over being dumped at the altar of the “special relationship.” It should have been them. It was after all, the French who gave you the Statue of Liberty and the keys to the Bastille and who think Jerry Lewis is funny. What did the English ever give you? Muffins and a burnt White House.