US-NATO Engagement in Afghanistan and Pakistan's Role as non-NATO Ally.
US invasion of Afghanistan took place in very peculiar circumstances. Afghanistan was punished for the actions of the people who had nothing to do with that country. In fact, not a single one of the alleged perpetrators of the 9/11 crime could be associated with it. Nevertheless, a new administration had come to power in the US which believed very strongly in American right to determine what was good or bad, not only for itself but for the rest of the world as well. The Bush administration's philosophical underpinning was derived from Zionist and Christian rightists, who believed that it was the manifest destiny of the US to recast the globe in a manner that would preserve American interests.
The 9/11 was a horrible tragedy that deservedly was condemned by all, but it was eagerly accepted by important elements in the Bush administration as well as by extremist Christians and Jews, as an opportunity to promote the agenda that had already been prepared and adopted by them even before the administration had stepped into the White House. Therefore, it was not purely an invasion that resulted from the desire of the US to seek revenge from a country which the popular American imagination came to associate with terrorism, but also as a stepping stone in America's desire to dominate the globe.
All the subsequent speeches, statements, policy pronouncements, even US global strategy reflect the fulfillment of that political philosophy, which was based on contempt and was distinct from the views of the international community. It was self-righteousness, disregarding completely the international organizations, primarily the UN, and a declaration to the world that they would have to choose either to be with the US or if any country fails to comply, it would be taken as evidence of its opposition, even enmity, to the only superpower. So, 'you are with us or against us' was actually an ultimatum to the international community to lay itself up along with the US and whatever it wished to do. Because of the horror of the 9/11 and the perception that Afghanistan was the refuge for the perpetrators and master mind of the event, Afghanistan came to become the target.
Afghanistan was invaded also in the expectation that it would be a very simple, cost free demonstration of US supremacy. Afghan history, traditions, culture, beliefs, ethnic composition were all set aside in firm belief that American military superiority, coupled with the superiority of its world view, would be so overwhelming that the Afghans would initially be taken over and then willingly accept America as a benefactor and a well-wisher.
After a decade of war and violence, the American occupation of Afghanistan has become longer than that of the USSR. The USSR casualties were high as compared to those of the United States, but the money that America has poured down in the hills of Afghanistan has been enormous and certainly, combined with the enormous money spent on Iraq, it is adversely impacting American economy. Yet, the most disturbing part is that even after these many years of occupation and the support of a large number of countries, primarily from Europe, the American presence in Afghanistan has neither been successful nor is any success in sight. This is precisely because the occupation of Afghanistan is becoming extremely unpopular, both in the US and EU.
In latter, the political and public pressure regarding occupation is even more intense than in the former, but the extension of July 2011 dateline to 2014 at the recently held NATO summit in November, has demonstrated that how the powerful lobbies in America influence the decision making process even of powerful Western European States.
It also shows that NATO is nothing more than an instrument of American foreign policy: it is meaningless without the US. In fact, NATO was created by the US in the aftermath of the Second World War primarily for two purposes: to deter USSR from expanding its influence in western Europe, and to keep the US domination on the Western Europe through the instrument of a military alliance. This is why after the collapse of the USSR, many Europeans were of the view that NATO was now irrelevant because there was no longer a threat to the Eastern Europe. The USSR had disintegrated, Eastern and Central Europe had regained freedom, and the boundaries, in fact, had been pushed back into Russia. Still, the American administration did not agree to this proposal. It rather took specific measures to expand and enhance NATO presence and influence in Eastern and Central Europe, much against the wishes of Russia. Resultantly, all the countries on the border of Russia are members of NATO at present.
Going beyond Western Europe into central and Eastern Europe is one thing; it is even becoming a global force to promote American interests, which explains why NATO is so active in Afghanistan and present in Pakistan as well. This military alliance would do exactly what the US wants.
And, what the US actually wants is quite vague because of the push and pull of strong lobbies in the country including the defense lobby, the intelligence community, and the security oriented think tanks. Therefore, even an extremely intelligent president of the US, Barack Obama, does not enjoy absolute freedom to do what he wishes to do. As a politician, he has to consider the fact that the Republicans are already extremely critical of him. Having faced the consequences in the midterm polls, he cannot provide the Republicans with the pretext of accusing him of being soft on national security issues. In America, this is the worst crime and strategic blunder that a politician can commit. When it comes to politicians, they all want to outbid each other in proclaiming a very robust, assertive, even aggressive posture on international issues.