Friday, October 23, 2009

Afghanistan

Today the leaders of NATO endorsed the US strategy of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan. Similar endorsements have come from key members of the UN.

Two months ago, General McChrystal presented his request for 40,000 additional troops to implement the counter-insurgency strategy that has now been endorsed by these leaders. As of this post, President Obama has yet to commit to that strategy.

However, Rahm has gone on the talk-shows and blasted - who else - the Bush administration for not having an effective strategy in Afghanistan, thus leaving Obama to "start from scratch". We now know that as early as March of this year, President Obama presented his strategy on Afghanistan. Interestingly enough, it mirrored Bush's strategy of a surge-like counter-insurgency. Obama appointed McChrystal to execute the plan. McChrystal established his command and soon after delivered his assessment that implementing the strategy originally designed by the Bush administration, adopted by the Obama administration, and now endorsed by our European allies, would require 40,000 troops. All of a sudden, Obama isn't sure.

McChrystal is waiting. Our dedicated troops are waiting. Obama believes the decision should be put off until the next Afghan election (or, more likely, the gubernatorial elections in NJ and Virgina).

McChrystal has made it clear what he needs. Even the Europeans agree. Obama isn't sure. This is our commander-in-chief. And each day he delays, military morale plummets.

Obama has one of two options: 1) send the troops McChrystal has requested, 2) pack up and get out of Afghanistan. My fear is that it will be somewhere in between, ie 10-20,000 troops. Folks, this is exactly how Vietnam escalated.

If Obama fails to meet his General's request, then I think both McChrystal and Petraeus should resign. And I think they will.

God bless our troops who are fighting and dying while their commander-in-chief deliberates on whether or not to give them what they need to win.

6 comments:

Auntyem said...

John,

What a pickle. If escalating the number of troops in Vietnam didn't work, how can more troops in Afghanistan work? I just wish we could bring them all home. Too many of our soldiers and Afghan civilians are getting killed, and if we send in more troops, more will get killed.

I think Obama would have liked to have had the head of Bin Laden, but the search has been futile. I think we have the arsenal to keep our country safe. I think they will not provoke us again the way they did on 9/11/01.

You say that Obama is not giving our soldiers there what they need to win, but who can prove sending the number of troops the general wants will work? It didn't in Vietnam. We had to pull out of there, why can't we pull out of Afghanistan before it turns into a Vietnam?

And why do you think a gubernatorial election has anything to do with a decision to send in more troops? That is bizarre. Obama told the Afghan president he wants a partner he can work with, so maybe he is waiting for that run-off election in Afghanistan to be finalized. That is their country, not ours, and they can't get thier act together. We should just pull out and let them fight it out. I think the people would get tired of their situation and revolt.

Emilie
Port Orchard, WA

Wry said...

Nightmare scenario: you called it. Is Mr. Obama really going to split the difference and authorize 20,000? Is that trying to please everyone, and ending up with a figure that is worse than nothing? Hmm.

John Washburn said...

Em, Since you brought up the Vietnam comparison I will submit that Vietnam became a mess in many ways because we wouldn't commit the troop strength that we needed to win. LBJ slowly escalated that war, piece by piece, due to his hesitancy to send in a massive force that would crush the enemy. Before we knew it, it was over a decade, and 50,000 dead because of our lack of commitment.

Obama is repeating the same mistake. If you want to argue that we shouldn't be in Afghanistan, that is a legitimate argument. But no one can say that the right thing is to split the difference and send in only a portion of what our commanders are asking for. If Gen McChrystal says he needs 40,000, he should get that many. If Obama can't deliver that many, then he needs to pull ALL of them out. Simple.

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

The Vietnam War Was Lost, not by Kennedy Or LBJ, but by Robert S. McNamara. He ran that war from Washington, D.C., had no military savvy, and 58,000 troopers died!

Years later, McNamara admitted his mistake in his book, 'In Retrospect', said "We were wrong, terribly wrong."

Now, we have the IDENTICAL problem; civilians are calling the shots in Afganistan, ignoring NATO and The U.N. It's idiotic.

Generals Petraeus & McCrystal know how to win it, and know-nothing Chicago Politicians & Nancy Pelosi are running this war...and still blaming George Bush. Good Grief!

Virginia Looking Good, New Jersey is close; slowly the people are waking up to Obama-mania. November 2010...we shall again have a Two-Party System! Trust the people.

Stay the Course, Dr John. reb

(Midnight, Nov 1st, Eastern)
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John Washburn said...

"And why do you think a gubernatorial election has anything to do with a decision to send in more troops"

Em, it's simple politics. Obama's priority is health care. There is nothing more important politically than that. The health care vote could be determined by the Governor's race in New Jersey. Right now, Pelosi is trying to convince about 20 moderate Dems to vote with her, but they are hesitant because their votes for the stimulus and cap/trade have placed them in jeopardy with voters.

If the people of New Jersey - a blue state - elect a GOP governor it will send a very loud message to DC that these big gov't programs are not wanted. It will scare the blue dogs away from the health care bill. If Corzine pulls it out, then they can still be persuaded by Pelosi.

Obama needs his base to show up in Jersey. If he were to commit ANY number of additional troops to Afghanistan, it would likely anger his base, disenchant them, and he would run the risk of them not showing up at the polls. That puts his health care bill in jeopardy. So, he delays his decision until after the election.

This nonsense about waiting for the Afghan election is ridiculous. It's insignificant who wins because either way we will be dealing with a pro-American, incompetent, corrupt Afghan gov't. That's what McChrystal's strategy is based on, so the outcome of that election doesn't matter.

McChrystal and Petraeus are both great military minds. No one knows counter-insurgency better than McChrystal. He IS the world authority on the subject. If anyone knows what it takes to win in Afghanistan, it's those two guys. If Afghanistan is worth winning, Obama needs to give them what they ask for.

Auntyem said...

John,

Thanks for clarifying what a gubernatorial race has to do with sending in more troops.

What a pickle. Obama is holding on to health care like a dog with a bone--he wants to succeed in that where others have failed. He also wants the head of Bin Laden. He wants to succeed there too where others have failed. One thing at a time.

What a pickle.

Emilie
Port Orchard, WA