I have had heaps of fun over the years making jokes about France and its defense policy (why do the streets in Paris have trees on the sides of the roads? so the Germans can march in the shade), but we have to take a huge grain of salt with any criticism of the French decision to mosey out of Afghanistan in 2013. I already blogged about this over the weekend, but I spotted some tweets about the French causing the Afghans to question NATO with the quick departure. My simple response: 2014-2013= one year. Simply put, how much does one year matter?
Am I happy that France is getting out faster than expected? No. I was not pleased that Canada raced out the door last year. Not great for alliance relations, but we need to put things into perspective. I am pretty sure that leaving one year early is not as bad as hanging around for a few years and not doing that much (Italy, Spain) or anything (Greece) or yanking key troops out of significant billets this past summer during the Libyan operation (Germany). Perhaps France did more damage by pushing the alliance too hard and too fast last winter. But now? Not a huge deal. Sarkozy is desperate for votes.
Oh, and in terms of Afghanistan, I am pretty sure that Karzai has done far more damage to NATO's image than France has.