I raise this now because of this tweet by NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen who is in Berlin today:
On #Afghanistan Chancellor Merkel and I agreed to stick to our Lisbon timetable. And the principle in together out together.
— AndersFogh Rasmussen (@AndersFoghR) May 4, 2012
That the Dutch and the Canadians left their combat missions in southern Afghanistan should mean that in together, out together has been severely breached, even if they came back in non-RC South training missions. It is clear that other countries will be leaving sooner rather than later, ahead of the 2014 deadline. Australia has made that clear, and the French Presidential election may speed up the French exit if Hollande wins and then keeps his promises.
I understand why Rasmussen repeats the mantra and tries to get countries to feel bound by it. It does raise the stakes of leaving if it appears to a country that it is breaking the norm and upsetting NATO. But given who has left already and given the deep financial pressures and political stakes, I am pretty sure the promise to leave only together is now approaching the pie crust promise end of the pop culture promise spectrum. I just feel it is my duty to point out when phrases from the international intervention drinking game may be deployed without much sincerity.