NATO took command of the 5,000-strong international peacekeeping force in the Afghan capital on Monday, a historic move that marks the alliance’s first operation outside Europe since it was created 54 years ago.
The alliance took over from Germany and the Netherlands, which have jointly led the International Security Assistance Force, known as ISAF, since Feb. 10.
This gives me a chance to ask a question. For several months us liberal types have been urging President Bush to swallow his pride and ask other countries for help in Iraq. This means the UN or NATO or, possibly, both.
Conservatives have savaged the idea, saying that the U.S. would inevitably lose control, the UN/NATO bureaucracy would muck things up, and the whole process would become too politicized to have any chance of success. James Joyner has an example of this argument posted today.
So what I want to know is this: what about Afghanistan? Is it OK to have foreign countries helping us there? Or was it a mistake not to keep control in our own hands?
In terms of the war on terrorism, my guess is that Afghanistan is actually more important than Iraq. It was, after all, the home of Osama bin Laden, and its long border with Pakistan continues to be one of the most active hiding areas for Islamic terrorists there is. Stabilizing Afghanistan and encouraging a tolerant democratic government there is surely one of the most important tasks we have.
So should we kick NATO out of Afghanistan? Or should we invite them into Iraq?
Or are you guys going to invent some subtle but crucial difference between the two to justify whatever it is you wanted to do in the first place?