Afghanistan is definitely going to be the big issue for the Chicago NATO Summit. The new president of France Francois Holland announced to President Obama that he would be removing French troops by the end of 2012. While this is not a big deal in terms of troop contributions, it is ever more important to ensure that aid continues from the West for years to come. As discussed in my previous blog, there is still a huge need to build the Afghan police forces and the rule of law. Without this, we may leave the country susceptible to a more media-savy, but equal horrible Taliban. It will severely hurt the average Afghan.
Furthermore, leaders from both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be present at the Summit. With no middle man, communication must be straightforward. You can bet President Karzai will not accept idle talk – real aid commitments will be the engine of the economy for years to come.
Also of note, the Italian leadership has left early in the wake of a large quake in Bologna.
Finally, let me know if you have any photos from inside the red zone or outside.