Tuesday, September 29, 2009
In his first major speech in the United States, the new head of NATO is expected to respond Monday, to President Obama's concerns that the United States is doing the lion's share of the fighting in Afghanistan. In prepared remarks, Anders Fogh Rasmussen acknowledges more resources are needed to fight the battle against the Taliban. However, he is expected ask the United States to stop downplaying efforts by America's allies.
The new head of NATO is set to defend the international body's contribution to the fight in Afghanistan.
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama said there was "an almost reflexive anti-Americanism", which was stopping some countries from stepping up to the plate.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen is expected to say that is just not true.
The new NATO head's prepared remarks say he understands Washington's frustration. But he will warn that American downplaying international efforts could prove a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He is expected to say America's allies are not running from the fight. Nine thousand additional non-U.S. troops have joined the battle in Afghanistan in the past 18 months.
The long-drawn-out fight against the Taliban does not have huge popular support in Europe. Already, the Netherlands has set next year as its deadline for a full withdrawal of its troops and Italy has made it known it wants out too.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has rejected calls for a withdrawal deadline for American troops, saying that would be a "strategic mistake".
American accusations that its allies are not pulling their weight hit hard in France. In recent days, four French soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, in two separate accidents.
France has the fourth-largest contingent in Afghanistan, with 3400 troops based around the country.