When an international force is only international and not a force

Kings of War highlights a central problem to all international missions in talking about Europe’s endeavor in Afghanistan:

Our European partners are simply not pulling their weight in AFG. The NATO Secretary General has repeatedly asked the European allies to provide more resources and, crucially, to remove national caveats that prevent their forces from entering the fight. Indeed, just four days ago, the ISAF Commander, Gen. Dan McNeil, complained that some NATO member states have not even provided the troops they had promised to deploy in Afghanistan. Moreover, he was damning on the issue of caveats: “When countries say their forces can only operate in certain ways and in a certain geographic space that certainly impinges on my ability to mass forces.” In short, many of our European allies – especially the big cats: France, Germany, and Spain – have yet to step up to the plate and prove themselves.

Yes, they do need to step. But consider this: what happens when rules on the use of force fail to prevent and thus permit a war crime? DUTCHBAT in Srebrenica, or pick a country patrolling an African PKO in say SL, DRC or Rwanda… I understand politics of deployment and even the fear of a German soldier potentially coming face to face with a child solder (and thus Op Artemis is barely more than a war game), but come on. Stop playing politics with the lives of vulnerable people, and by vulnerable I mean populations that are increasingly susceptible to extremist ideology.