NATO head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has warned, on Tuesday 07/21/2009, that walking away from the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan would have a “devastating” effect and failure would give free run to Al Qaeda.

His comments come as Afghanistan suffers a spike in violence ahead of elections on 20 August. More foreign troops have been killed in July than in any other month since the US-led invasion in 2001.

In a speech at a think tank, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said NATO-ISAF could not afford to abandon their campaign. He repeated the cliché that “If we were to walk away, Afghanistan would fall to the Taliban, with devastating effect for the people there – women in particular,” as if the war in Afghanistan is about “liberating” the local people from their hundreds years of their own tradition.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer also said any such move would have an impact on the wider region “Pakistan would suffer the consequences, with all that that implies for international security…Central Asia would see extremism spread. Al Qaeda would have a free run again, and their terrorist ambitions are global”.

He said NATO members had to realize that the mission was “essential” to their security. “As much as we may long for the near-perfect security of Cold War deterrence, we must accept that security today requires engagement in far away places – engagement that is dangerous, expensive, open ended, and with no guarantee of success”.

Earlier on Monday, the NATO-led force in Afghanistan announced the deaths of four US soldiers in the east of the country. The deaths bring the number of NATO-ISAF soldiers killed in July to 56. Eighteen of those are from the UK, where the rising toll has sparked debate over the country’s participation in NATO-ISAF mission.

The basic fact is that most of the terror attacks or terror networks exposed in Europe were motivated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A common technique to recruit young frustrated Muslims in Europe to Islamic militancy is to talk with them about “atrocities” carried out by the Western democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. NATO-ISAF, as all other armies in the world, did not find the formula to fight terror without the collateral damage of many thousands dead civilian casualties.

Many European countries fear Afghanistan might turn to a second Iraq which will suck endless resources for years to come and doubt if it is worth it.

Giving the economic sources of Europe, the population of about 350 millions and the combined military strength, NATO pledge very little. In the last NATO summit in Brussels, on 04/04/2009, NATO allies agreed to send up to 5,000 more military trainers and police to Afghanistan on temporary basis, including forces to help protect candidates and voters at upcoming elections, scheduled to 08/20/2009 (see – NATO 04.04.09).

Countries like Italy or Spain pledged only few hundreds soldiers. Smaller countries like Holland or Denmark pledged only few dozens security personnel. Eventually USA is left alone, with some help of British troops, to cope with the ongoing situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Europe had enough.
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