07/24/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Pak-Afghan Riddle

"Prof. Barnett Rubin on the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Taliban and NATO" -- The Real News Network's Pepe Escobar asks about the status of NATO forces in the Middle East

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July 16: The Real News Network analyst Pepe Escobar asks Professor Barnett Rubin of NYU what NATO's mission is in Afghanistan. He goes on to say, "I went to Brussels and asked that to the Europeans, and I got 27 bewildered countries saying 'We don't know. We were misled by the Bush administration'."

Professor Rubin says that "NATO now has the command of the International Security Assistance Force" (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Initially ISAF was set up under a UN mandate just to provide security in the Kabul area and to train new Afghan security forces. However, they have now had to expand into the Afghan provinces as well.

Rubin says that at present the problem with NATO in Afghanistan is that ISAF is an "Institutional Command Structure" with "the problem of trying to implement what is essentially a post-conflict operation while the conflict is escalating." He says the situation has arisen because the US administration has put Afghanistan "on auto-pilot" while concentrating on Iraq. NATO allies have said they were deceived by the Bush administration at least in part because initially the US had assured its allies that they "would take of any problems with Pakistan" with regard to Taliban bases in Pakistan.

According to Rubin, those at the top leadership of the Bush administration were so focused on al-Qaeda and the terrorist threat that they had not taken into consideration that "Pakistan still really did not consider the Taliban to be an enemy." This was to "counter measures against an Indian presence in Afghanistan. And also to assure that the United States continues to need Pakistan for something. In order to maintain their military supply relationship which is essential to their defense against India."

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