Denmark has turned down a NATO request to send F-16 fighters to Afghanistan as it believes it has done enough for the international military mission there, the foreign minister said Thursday. “…[Denmark...has a strong desire to scale down its military engagement" in Afghanistan as the Danish defence budget was "under pressure" and the government "is under no obligation to do more" there. Denmark "can be proud" of its role in Afghanistan, she said, adding that "it's up to other countries to play a role and meet (NATO's) demands"... <Read full AFP article>
Two points stand out in this report. First, Denmark has been a faithful NATO ally, it has suffered more troops killed per capita than any other NATO member. So this refusal to help cannot have been an easy task. My question is, the NATO Secretary General is a former Danish Prime Minister. Could he not gauge the political temperature in Denmark? Is he so oblivious to Danish political and economic reality? Political decisions don't just come out from nowhere. They germinate and then after much give and take, sprout. So, Mr. Rasmussen, what happened here? Why ask for something you know cannot be delivered.
Second, Denmark's refusal is yet another reminder of the consequenses from the financial crisis. The ground has shifted in the EU and the U.S. With the recent German military cuts, U.S. scaling back its military budget, france and the UK trying to join their offensive and defensive military operations and maintenance. There is a strategic change underfoot in Euro-Atlantic defense and security operations, and the sooner NATO realizes it the more the chances that it will continue to be effective in the twenty-first century. As a first step NATO should begin top level discussion with CSDP [the EU's security and defense establishment] to bridge operations and eliminate duplication.