Josh Foust summarises an e-mail from a concerned reader in Kabul:
Indeed, the big concern he raised is whether or not the war is being ‘Americanized.’ It is certainly a growing theme, as an American takes over command in Kandahar and RC-South is flooded with U.S. troops (Rajiv Chandrasekaran, for example, has filed multiple reports to this effect). The reader said that McKiernan was adamant about limiting the American footprint in ISAF so that it’s not seen as a U.S. puppet
[…] ‘The mission of ISAF is broader than just to exact revenge on terrorists and their supporters for September 11 or even to remove Afghanistan’s capability of supporting terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda.’
Alas, this is now America’s war. The Commander-in-Chief himself has pared it down to a revenge mission, which makes sense for a cash-strapped superpower. For their part, the oft-ridiculed allies will be happy to leave. The Brits will stay, of course, as will the Aussies, and perhaps the Dutch and the Danes will have enough political stamina to keep going despite loud grumbling at home. But the German and Scandinavian governments will face increasing pressure to scale down their commitment, and I wouldn’t really count on them Frogs and Dagos either.
Needless to say, this will be a mixed blessing for McChrystal. Good news is, he will get rid of the beer-bellied slobs cowering in their FOBs in search of a reason not to go on patrol. On the other hand, when the allies have packed up and gone, the Americans will have themselves some seriously empty space in Northern Afghanistan. Maybe the region’s ethnic makeup will be enough to keep the Taleban at bay. If not, it’s an exposed flank no sane commander would want.
I’m no apologist for ISAF ineptitude, but let’s be honest: for eight years, Europeans have been covering America’s ass in the north. What happens when they pull out is anybody’s guess. Make no mistake, though: now that they’ve been handed an excuse on a silver platter, they will leave.