- Non-Anglo NATO forces that are in Afghanistan are helping. They aren't by and large unless conducting traffic or manning the copier in Kabul are considered "helping".
- Non-Anglo NATO countries would be helping in Afghanistan sans Iraq. It is equally, I would argue more but for the sake of argument I'll say equally, possible that there would be fewer NATO troops in Afghanistan as it would be the "bad war" absent Iraq. A similar dynamic can be seen amongst US Democrats, switching from opposition/resigned acquiescence to support for Afghanistan after Iraq.
- Non-Anglo Europe was all out opposed to the Iraq invasion and we forced it down their throats. Simply not true, most of Europe (I'm referring to governments of course) supported the Iraq War and/or the subsequent occupation.
- Non-Anglo NATO countries have hordes of soldiers just waiting to rescue us in Afghanistan (or Iraq in some cases). Last year Continental Europe proved unable to provide a few thousand soldiers and 9 helicopters to support the NATO mission in Afghanistan, not for lack of support for the mission but for far more tangible reasons.
These last two points are what I want to focus on since they just happen to be the topics of three of my first posts on this blog back in June 2006. The first deals with the incorrect notion that "Europe" was monolithically or even mostly opposed to the Iraq War, the second with the idea that Germany could provide many 10's of thousands of soldiers to support us if we were nicer, and the 3rd is the same as the second but covers France. The last two were written some 2 years ago so some of the specifics are out of date (budgets, "current" deployments, the German military is reorganizing, etc) but they remain accurate overall. They also deal with Iraq, but if they don't have the capacity to help us in Iraq they don't have it to help us in Afghanistan.
The "Europe refused to help us in Iraq" Myth
(Green are countries who helped in Iraq, Red those who didn't, and Gray are those with reason not to.)
When dealing with why some European countries (e.g. France and Germany) did not help us in Iraq, it can be easily forgotten that most of Europe (24 countries) has in fact helped us. True they have not sent large numbers of soldiers, never more than 25,000 in total, but that is because they suffer from many of the same problems and constraints as France and Germany. That they still managed to send some soldiers further shows the venal and self-serving nature of France and Germany’s refusal to help even in a limited capacity.
The Phantom Euro Army Part 1 - Germany
One of the major complaints about George Bush's foreign policy is that by giving the Europeans short shrift, he kept them from providing the soldiers that would have made the Iraq occupation much easier. It is taken as simple fact that the lack of forces from certain European countries in Iraq is due to Bush's hubris and nothing else. If only Bush had asked pretty please and had a tea party with Chirac and Schroeder there would be tens of thousands of French, German, and other European soldiers in Iraq today. However, if the European militaries are analyzed it becomes apparent that no matter how nice and "multilateral" (apparently the multi part only applies when you hit the 33rd ally, since having only 30 or so allies is clearly being alone) Bush was, there simply could not be any significant numbers of French, German, or Belgian soldiers in Iraq.
First up is the Bundeswehr. It is a decent sized force on paper with some 250,000 soldiers. Its budget is only $30 billion which means the Bundeswehr is one of the least well funded militaries in NATO at only $116,000 per soldier. This compares to a nuclear-adjusted $245,000 for the U.S. Military.
The Phantom Euro Army Part 2 - France
This is the second post on whether some European states could have sent significant numbers of soldiers to Iraq. The contention is that Bush has been rude to Europe and therefore they will not send soldiers to help in Iraq. This, I think, is not supported by the facts. The reality is most European countries do not have many soldiers to send nor the financial and/or political means to do so if they wanted. The first post covered Germany and this one deals with France.
France's armed forces have around 200,000 soldiers in their ranks. Though this is 20% less than Germany, the French military budget is 50% larger at $45 billion. Around $4 billion does need to be subtracted from this to account for the Force de Frappe (nuclear forces) that Germany and most countries do not possess. This leaves $41 billion which is a respectable $205,000 per soldier.
Essentially, no amount of making nice, cajoling, policy changing can entice Continental Europe to provide more soldiers for either Iraq or Afghanistan. While Europeans may wish to delude themselves into believing that it can for obvious reasons (no Emperor wants to point out they have no clothes), we need to be a bit more cognizant and realistic about Europe's very real limitations in the global power realm. This goes especially for our potential future presidents, not that any of the three particularly stand above the other two in this regard.