Budgeting NATO’s future

Michael A. Innes

The NATO summit currently underway in Lisbon will set in motion a train of events pinned to a handover of responsibility to Afghan forces and phased withdrawal over the next few years. The mission will be less than a success, but it will be brought to a "successful conclusion" – using the same flat, inglorious euphemism previously used to describe the termination of NATO operations in the Balkans in 2003 and 2004.

Getting to that point in Afghanistan, however, will require a bit more work. Casting a long shadow over all of it is NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s plan for radical spending cuts to NATO, to be announced today. The plans include the reduction of military officers assigned to its strategic headquarters from 13,000 to 9,000, cutting some of its European headquarters entirely, and the elimination of 11 of NATO’s 14 support agencies. Afghanistan has placed enormous strains on the Alliance, but they pale in significance compared to such extensive cuts.

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