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Asia Times: Afghanistan: Why NATO cannot win

The four-month-old Republic of Montenegro on the Adriatic Sea received its first foreign dignitary on Monday when US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld arrived at its capital, Podgorica. Unknowingly, the tiny country of rugged mountains and great beauty in the Balkans with a population of 630,000 was being catapulted into the cockpit of 21st-century geopolitics.

Rumsfeld's mission was to request the inexperienced leadership in Podgorica to dispatch a military contingent to form part of the coalition of the willing in the "war on terror". Rumsfeld promised that in return, the US would help train Montenegro's fledgling army to standards of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

However, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic could not make any commitments. Rumsfeld's proposal came at an awkward moment for the leadership in Podgorica, which had just scrapped the draft and was scaling down its 4,000-strong army to about 2,500.

This bizarre diplomatic exchange between the most awesome military power on Earth and the newest member of the "international community" brings home the paradoxes of the "war on terror" on the eve of its fifth anniversary. Three ministerial-level meetings of NATO have taken place within the space of the past month alone, specifically with the intent of ascertaining how troop strength in Afghanistan can be augmented.

by Fran on Sun Oct 1st, 2006 at 02:00:47 AM EST
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