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News Link • WAR: About that War

'We Will Stay in Afghanistan as Long as It Takes to Finish Our Job'


SPIEGEL: Mr. Secretary General, the NATO mission in Afghanistan has not been going well in the last few years. Now US President Barack Obama has announced a new strategy. He is deploying 30,000 additional troops and is calling on allies to make additional sacrifices. Does this signify a new beginning?

Rasmussen: No. We aren't starting at zero. I would call it a new approach, a supplement to our mission thus far. We are currently beefing up our efforts on all levels.

SPIEGEL: What does that mean?

Rasmussen: We will deploy at least 37,000 additional soldiers, and presumably even more. At the same time, we want to gradually turn over responsibility for the country's security to Afghan soldiers and police. And we need to increase our efforts to train them. It is the responsibility of Afghanistan's new government to gain better control over the country's administration and to resolutely fight the drug trade and corruption. And many countries and organizations have pledged to contribute to civil reconstruction. The European Union already has an action plan, and Japan has pledged $5 billion (€3.4 billion). All of this together adds new momentum to our mission. You'll see, things will soon begin moving ahead in Afghanistan.

SPIEGEL: The displeasure among the populations of the NATO countries involved in the war is growing even more quickly than your commitment. About 70 percent of Germans favor a rapid withdrawal of their troops. How long can democratically governed nations wage a war opposed by a majority of their populations?

Rasmussen: I believe that people understand very well why we are in Afghanistan…

SPIEGEL: … and why, then, are they in favor of a rapid withdrawal?

Rasmussen: I believe that they understand that, with our troops, we must prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven and pullback area for terrorists. Otherwise, they could use it as a base from which to advance into Central Asia and further. In addition, they would continue to destabilize neighboring Pakistan, a nuclear power. All of this would be very, very dangerous, both for others and for us.


2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Lola Flores
Entered on:

 Oh, we never had any doubts to the contrary.  That damn gas pipeline to the Caspian Sea must be finished at any cost.  And EXXON, et al will not leave until it is finished.  And that is final!

Comment by TL Winslow
Entered on:

We will stay as long as it takes to do our job? What is our job? to keep Afghanistan from being a home base to al-Qaida? To do that, all we have to do is begin negotiating with the Taliban to finally hand them over in exchange for money and an immediate pullout, then let the Taliban have Afghanistan while we go back to defending our country back home where it counts. I'll bet there's a hidden job of protecting the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline, keeping a military presence near the Caspian Sea oil, and supporting a possible invasion of Iran, but if so, when did the Congress officially approve it, and how long can we afford it? If we're going to invade Iran, we better do it by next year, or it will be too later to stop them from getting nukes. As to the Taliban, al-Qaida are illegal immigrants to them, they don't share their jihad with the U.S. and Israel, and we drove them in their arms with our invasion, so why not offer them $1 billion for each al-Qaida leader and $1 million for each grunt, it's cheaper than $1 million a year for each U.S. soldier kept there. The people of Afghanistan are just too backward and drenched in Muslim Sharia to sustain a stable pro-Western secular govt. without permanent military occupation, and we can't afford it until we win the real war, the one on terror. Study Islam's history and see why the Taliban can be split from al-Qaida at

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