NATO’s Rasmussen Is a Big Old Hawk

Friday, October 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm

OK, it’s officially NATO-in-Afghanistan Day at The Streak. Matthew Yglesias notes the hawkishness of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO secretary general, and writes that Rasmussen appears “considerably more hawkish in his rhetoric on Afghanistan than Barack Obama is.” I don’t quite know what accounts for that, but Yglesias reminds us that when Rasmussen was prime minister of Denmark, he was the only Scandinavian leader not only to support the invasion of Iraq but to send troops to help with it. And under his government, Denmark actually imprisoned a whistleblower who leaked documents that cast doubt on Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Leaving that, uh, aside for the moment, it’s kind of a cost-free American position to upbraid European allies for not pulling their weight in Afghanistan. But Yglesias crunches the numbers and determines that tiny Denmark is, proportionally, shouldering a massive burden:

Denmark only has 700 soldiers in Afghanistan of whom 26 have been killed, but Denmark has about as many people in it as Cook County. Scaled up to America’s population this would be as if we had had about 1,400 soldiers killed out of a 38,000-strong deployment. Of course in a war absolute number count and Denmark is still a small contributor.

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