The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


44 The Obama Presidency

Obama and the Europeans face Afghanistan

By Scott Wilson
Regardless of how President Obama decides to proceed in Afghanistan, he will be seeking additional help from his European allies with the fighting, training and building that his top general says is necessary to stabilize the country.

Obama will be making the case Tuesday in a series of White House meetings with visiting European leaders, beginning with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Oval Office.

Merkel won reelection in September after a campaign during which her rival proposed withdrawing some of Germany's 4,500 troops in Afghanistan by 2011. Merkel opposed the proposal, saying any withdrawal should be coordinated among NATO members.

Obama thanked Germans on Tuesday for their "sacrifice" in Afghanistan, where about 35 German soldiers have been killed. Germany is also in charge of the training program for the Afghan National Police, an important element of all strategies under discussion in the White House.

Obama said that "Germany has been an extraordinarily strong ally on a whole host of international issues."

"We appreciate the sacrifices of German soldiers in Afghanistan," he said, "and our common work there to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and to create the environment in which the Afghan people themselves can provide for their own security."

Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the roughly 100,000 U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has asked Obama for tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to quickly turn back the Taliban.

At a meeting in Slovakia last month, NATO defense ministers endorsed McChrystal's counter-insurgency strategy. But the stated support has not turned into specific pledges from Europe's political leaders of additional combat forces.

In many ways, Obama's ability to persuade European leaders to send more troops to the eight-year-old war is a test of his diplomacy, which emphasizes the international alliances that the Bush administration often ignored.

European leaders have praised his departure from the go-it-alone style and policies of President George W. Bush, and Obama enjoys rock-star popularity among the European public.

So far, though, the domestic political calculations of European leaders are outweighing Obama's appeal to their shared interests in creating a peaceful, al-Qaeda-free Afghanistan. The war is deeply unpopular in Europe, where many see it as an American project.

On Tuesday afternoon, Obama is scheduled to participate in United States-European Union mini-summit in the White House Cabinet Room.

He will be hosting Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, president of the European Council; European Commission President José Manuel Barroso; and European Council High Representative Javier Solana.

Obama's ongoing review of Afghanistan strategy, and how Europe can support his decision, will almost certainly come up.

Posted at 11:13 AM ET on Nov 3, 2009  | Category:  44 The Obama Presidency
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No Matter how you feel about Afghanistan, it is being over-run by Alqueda and our U.S. Troops are dying in record numbers! Our Commanders of Army, Marines, Special Forces, Air Force, etc., are begging for backup as our U.S. military is slowly bleeding to death over there. This is where the root of terrirism lurks, started, and now hides, (along with Pakistan.) I oppose going to Pakistan, but agree with Obama's idea to ask our European Allies for help in finishing the job in Afghanistan. We need to get more forces over in Afghanistan now, and clean up this mess once and for all. For those of you against war, remember...we did not start this war, but we, The United States have to finish it, and soon. It is our freedom that was threatened and we shall retaliate when threatened! Remember 9-11-01? Obama came up with a brilliant idea after winning the Nobel Peace Prize from Europe.They applaud his ideas for peace? Now is the time for Europe to "Walk the Talk" and stand beside us in Afghanistan. We have been there for Europe in war and in peace. If we truly want world peace, we must stand firm and take Alqueda
down now!

Posted by: lindinc2003 | November 3, 2009 4:33 PM

We already out-man the Taliban 12-1, Obama sent in 30k more troops shortly after his inauguration so how is that "dithering"?.

With the elections in disarray no world leader would be prudent to make another decision until it was settled.

Someone tell me how sending in even more troops into a meat-grinder when we already outnumber them 12-1 is going to make things better?

Posted by: JRM2 | November 3, 2009 2:29 PM

I voted for Obama and gave money to his campaign. I am basically a "Yellow Dog" Democrat but my views are not consistently those of a Democrat. I oppose most types of gun control although I do not own a gun. I oppose Abortion but favor the right of a woman to choose and favor legalized abortions for those who decide in favor of abortion. Birth control should be more readily available. The 'morning after" pill should be as available as aspirin. I favor limited government but would prefer medical care like that provided in the Scandanavian countries. What some would label socialized medicine. Our government has imprisoned too many people wasting people and resources.
I am currently very angry at President Obama for not withdrawing US troops from Iraq and ending the use of troops in Afghanistan. Irag, after we are forced to withdraw, will ally with Iran and be our enemy. However, long we stay in Afghanistan once we are forced to leave the Afghanis who survive the war will be our enemies. While we should retain the right to use Predator Missles and other high tech weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan [and whereever else our enemies gather] I see no reason for an extended occupation of either Iraq or Afghanistan. I have traveled extensively in my life and at age 69 I have studied closely the histories of both Iraq and Afghanistan. I visited Kabul and Baghdad, as well as Damascus, Beirut and Tehran during the 1960's and studied carefully the religious and social differences which afflict those regions. The military power of the US is being misused and could be better used in our own hemisphere. As a nation the biggest threat to our survivial is economic. The bankruptcy which looms for our country after years of wars has reached the point where the interest on our huge national debt will overwhelm us. Our standard of living will continue to decline and the gap between the rich and the poor will continue to grow. Our middle class will continue to shrink in size and out country will continue to decline.
I think Obama lacks the courage to get the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps he is afraid that the Secret Service will let him be killed if he makes decisions opposed by our military and the "military industrial complex."

Posted by: jimeglrd8 | November 3, 2009 12:55 PM

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