News / Asia

Afghanistan Top Agenda Item at NATO Chicago Summit

A banner is seen hanging in advance of the upcoming NATO meeting in Chicago, May 14, 2012. A banner is seen hanging in advance of the upcoming NATO meeting in Chicago, May 14, 2012.
x
A banner is seen hanging in advance of the upcoming NATO meeting in Chicago, May 14, 2012.
A banner is seen hanging in advance of the upcoming NATO meeting in Chicago, May 14, 2012.
Afghanistan will be at the top of the agenda when heads of state and government from the 28-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meet in Chicago Sunday and Monday.

NATO has been operating in Afghanistan since 2003, leading a 130,000 member United Nations-mandated contingent known as the “International Security Assistance Force,” or ISAF.  ISAF’s main goal has been to help Afghan authorities provide security and stability in order to create conditions for the country’s reconstruction and development.

2014 deadline

Analysts say the Chicago summit will reaffirm NATO’s decision to remove all combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014 while remaining committed to a long-term partnership with the Afghan people.

Sean Kay is a NATO expert at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.

 “If you look at the domestic politics inside the NATO countries, be it France or here in the United States where public support for this war has just cascaded, it’s pretty clear where the direction is,” says Kay.

“And so the question for NATO now is really one of how to manage a gradual and responsible exit from the country that at least gives the Afghan people a fighting chance to stand up on their own, with continued assistance, but really with Afghans in the lead.”

Kay says that keeping the 2014 exit date is crucial, adding that, “You really need that timeline to send a message to the Karzai government and other people in Afghanistan that they can’t just be dependent on America forever there.

“They do have to take responsibility for their own country,” he says. “And so to the extent that we would be engaged in the future, it is going to have to be in a significantly scaled back and largely supportive role, while maintaining the counterterrorism capability as needed.”

NATO’s general rule in Afghanistan has been “in together, out together,” but analysts say that is becoming a problem.

Related video by Al Pessin:

French challenge

Kay says NATO officials at the summit will have to persuade the newly elected president of France, Francois Hollande, not to withdraw the 3,300 French troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year as he pledged during the presidential campaign.

“If the allies are starting to bail, then that creates a problem for America’s commitment to the war - because absent allies, then the United States is left holding the bag alone and that will not be sustainable with the United States public,” Kay says.

Charles Kupchan, a NATO expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, says even if the French withdraw on their own, it would not mean the end to NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.

“Would the NATO mission come apart at the seams if French troops left? No,” concludes Kupchan. “Would it send the wrong signal, that is to say suggest that the coalition is unraveling prematurely? Yes. That’s why I think Hollande will be under pressure to moderate his position.”

Possible way out

But Kupchan says there may be a way out, possibly with Hollande getting only some of the French troops out, or at least out of combat, early on.

“Hollande might reduce the mission definition for the French contingent so that they are not engaged in high-intensity combat in the same way that they have been before,” Kupchan says. “But at the same time, he will agree to continue to have some kind of French mission in the country through the end of 2014.”

Kupchan and others say NATO alone cannot stabilize the situation in Afghanistan. He and other analysts say the international community must also provide the necessary economic and financial help to aid the government of President Hamid Karzai.

But these experts also say this may be difficult because resources are scarce given the economic situation in many industrialized countries these days.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid