Friday, May 4, 2012

In Together, Out Together

The mantra during the Balkan interventions was "in together, out together."  This was often matched the logically compatible but empirically contradictory: "hasten the day" to get out.  The reality was that we did not come out of Bosnia together--we just re-flagged the effort from NATO to EU and the North Americans left.  I am sure that not all of the folks who entered Kosovo in 1999 are still there now unless being outnumbered by Luxembourg counts as "in".

I raise this now because of this tweet by NATO's Secretary-General Anders Fogh  Rasmussen who is in Berlin today:

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.

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