World Politics Review's Judah Grunstein casts a skeptical eye at NATO's 7,000 troops pledge, noting that it will consist largely of European troops are already stationed in the country and will have their deployments extended. A big chunk of them will also come from Georgia, a non-NATO member with an ulterior motive:
But the rest of the troops mentioned are
either already deployed, or coming from a country whose desperate,
loose cannon leader is pretty much discredited internationally. From a
military perspective, Georgia's contribution is welcome news. But from
political perspective, it represents more that country's desperation to
join NATO than a grand victory for Obama's new strategy.
According to the Washington Post, NATO officials are counting on at least 900 troops from Georgia. Grunstein thinks it might be as high as 3,300.
Whatever the numbers, I'm not sure why Mikheil Saakashvili thinks that helping out NATO in Afghanistan will be any more effective at currying international favor than helping out in Iraq. Georgia, at one point, had 2,000 soldiers in Iraq, the third largest contingent after the U.S. and Britain. But NATO membership appears no more likely today than it did three years ago and the U.S. military support Georgia was expecting when Russian tanks rolled in never materialized. No matter how many troops Georgia sends, it's not going to change the fact that NATO has no desire to incur Russian wrath by admitting a recently invaded country coping with two breakaway regions.
Yes, Georgia receives U.S. miltiary aid and training, but even that is conditional. The U.S. has made it clear that it is training Georgia in counterinsurgency techniques for use in Afghanistan and not "skills that would be useful against a large conventional force like Russia’s." In other words, we'll train to help out with our security priorities, just not yours.
Participating in these missions is generally not as effective a method of gaining U.S. favor as countries think it is. As Polish journalist Adam Michnik noted yesterday,"We are everywhere where the
American army fights -- Afghanistan, Iraq -- and thankful America
doesn't even remove the visas for Polish people to come to America!"
Countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have managed to turn their militaries into "rent-an-armies" for U.N. peacekeeping missions in exchange for military aid, but in terms of winning geopolitical concessions, sending thousands of your soldiers into a conflict where you have no particular strategic interest doesn't seem very effective.
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