Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Problem With Tourists

The Germans are getting tired of standing with us in the good war. They did reauthorize another year of deployment in Afghanistan, but the German people are growing weary of their non-war. The Afghanistan campaign is the only war NATO has ever been activated for, and the German people now think it is a bad war.

But if Germany had voted to leave, the impact could have been terrible on other nations with equally skittish voters:

Finally, any move by this key NATO ally to significantly reduce or withdraw its Afghan deployment could cause a dangerous chain reaction across the Alliance as other countries face serious pressure to do the same. German politicians and public opinion are already following the Afghanistan debates in Canada, the Netherlands, etc. quite closely--and vice versa. After all, no one wants to be the last NATO member to sacrifice troops for a lost military cause when others are already beginning to retreat.

This is the problem of having window dressing instead of fighting allies. If the Germans weren't there, what capability would we really lose? The German troops are just war tourists. Three thousand fewer mouths to feed and entertain, I say.

But once there, if they then leave before the mission is complete they could take with them allies whose troops actually do fight but whose home populations are shaky and see another big country going home while their own troops remain.

If allies don't want to help us--fine. They are free nations. But don't make things worse for us by coming along for the ride and then providing an excuse for others to leave when you run.