The news that NATO defense ministers are prepared to back a counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan seems a little bit weird given that we’re in the middle of a debate about what to do here in the United States. Something I noticed in Europe was that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former Prime Minister of Denmark, actually seemed considerably more hawkish in his rhetoric on Afghanistan than Barack Obama is.
And it actually turns out that Denmark, which until recently was under his leadership, was, in fact, putting more effort into Afghanistan than the United States was. Denmark only has 700 soldiers in Afghanistan of whom 26 have been killed, but Denmark has about as many people in it as Cook County. Scaled up to America’s population this would be as if we had had about 1,400 soldiers killed out of a 38,000-strong deployment. Of course in a war absolute number count and Denmark is still a small contributor. But part of the context for what happens at these meetings is, I think, the fact that NATO’s civilian chief is a guy who was the architect of what’s been, for his country, a pretty major war.