Christina Bergmann: NATO Considers Future of Afghanistan!
The future strategy for Afghanistan is the main item on the agenda at the NATO summit in Chicago. But French President Francois Hollande's plan to withdraw troops earlier than planned does not suit the allies. It is the biggest summit in the history of NATO. The 28 members of the alliance, as well as representatives from more than 60 states, plan to meet on Sunday and Monday to discuss the future of the alliance. US President Barack Obama has invited the guests to his hometown of Chicago, which is currently enjoying an early summer warmth. The issues include everything from "Smart Defense", how to pool resources so that limited defense budgets can be maximized, to the missile defense system for Europe a project that has caused considerable tension with Russia, up to the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. But for Obama, the top item on the agenda is possibly the most pressing, the future of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. The plan is for an orderly withdrawal of all NATO troops by the end of 2014. The newly elected French President Francois Hollande, however, has already announced that he intends to bring all French troops home by the end of this year. There is also a considerable lack of support for the Afghanistan mission in other countries, such as Germany, for example. Chancellor Angela Merkel is also at the summit, along with her Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere. Warnings over hasty retreat: Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel is warning against a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. Speaking at an event organized by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, he said only: If the exit plan is implemented with the appropriate care, can we hand over Afghanistan in 2014, that fulfills the minimum of alliance conditions."