It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

AP PHOTO / RAFIQ MAQBOOL

A British soldier from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force patrols on the outskirts of Kabul

Who would have predicted that the future of Nato — the most successful military alliance the world has ever seen — would come to depend on what happens in lawless Afghanistan in the next two years? Yet that is what officials on both sides of the Atlantic are saying as the alliance faces up to the reality of its ambition, announced in February 2005, to take on a bigger role in Afghanistan.

The Dutch parliament is now threatening to pull the plug on the Netherlands' 1,200-strong contribution to the expanded mission. The Netherlands is still gripped by...

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