would like the Chicago summit to produce at least two key results: a roadmap for aiding a post-war
and the official go-ahead for a missile defense shield for Europe.
Rasmussen, the former prime minister of Denmark, discussed those priorities and others with
editorial board Saturday, one day before the opening of the summit, which will bring more than 60 world leaders to
“On Afghanistan, I expect that we will make a decision on the future mission,” he said. With international security forces expected to exit by the end of 2014, NATO’s role will shift to training Afghan troops to taking over full responsibility for national security, he said.
The price tag is expected to be $4 billion a year, with the U.S. picking up a little more than half.
But with the
in economic turmoil, there are questions about whether those countries can find the resources to support the plan.
“Though this is not a pledging conference, a number of allies and partners have already announced complete financial contributions, and based on that, I’m optimistic about reaching our goal,” he said.
When asked whether the goals for a post-2014 Afghanistan had been ratcheted down to aim for a “good enough” outcome, Rasmussen said it was important to have reasonable expectations for a society that faces numerous challenges, from its wartorn condition to corruption, drug trafficking and poverty.
“We are there first and foremost in Afghanistan to prevent the country from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists,” he said.
But, he said, “we can’t expect Afghanistan to be what some people might call a perfect society compared to the standard of society we are used to. And less can do.”
He downplayed the impact of new French President
’s pledge to withdraw French troops by year-end, noting Hollande has said his country is prepared to provide other forms of support.
“I don’t think it creates uncertainty,” he said.
NATO leaders at the two-day summit also will decide whether to move ahead on the first of four phases of a missile defense system for Europe — a program that has raised hackles in Russia, which is not a NATO member.
The first phase does not raise major concerns in Moscow, Rasmussen said, “so we still have some time to go.” The full program could take up to a decade to roll out.
As for his initial impressions of Chicago as a host city, Rasmussen said, “it’s my clear impression that all the security arrangements work smoothly.”
He said he was well-aware of planned protests and said a key NATO official has met with an umbrella group for many of the protesters to listen to their positions.
“It’s not justified to call NATO a war machine,” he said. He said its historic role has been as a peacemaker.
“But in free society, it’s a constitutional right to express yourself, even if your statements are not justified,” he said.