Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Afghanistan

As near as I can tell, the president proposes to offer 18 months of training to Afghanistan armed forces, after which American troops will begin to draw down. Whether you support this or not depends, I suppose, on whether you buy the argument that Al Qaeda requires a presence in Afghanistan to plot further attacks on the west. Personally, I'm skeptical.

I did appreciate the president's tone. He was somber and intricate, eschewing the "with us or against us" rhetoric of his predecessor. Indeed, he actually addressed the American people as adults capable of reasoned analysis. Although the idea is fraught with contradictions, I agree with his decision to establish as deadline for troop presence. Yes, it's true that battle conditions won't respect deadlines. One must also ask that if the surge is so critical to American interests, what's the point of a deadline? If our interests haven't been served in 18 months, won't they still be there and require the troop surge?

Good questions. Good questions that are trumped by my suspicion that, without a deadline, the military will continually seek to escalate an open-ended commitment. It seems to me that Obama is saying this: We'll try it your way for a year-and-a-half. But if it doesn't work, don't expect me to be on board indefinitely.

I don't like the idea of propping up a corrupt regime with American blood and treasure. The surest way for Afghanistan to keep the Taliban from returning to power is to establish an honest government. I also don't like the idea of American troops killing and inflicting damage on innocent Afghanis, something that is bound to happen with greater frequency by sending more troops. This is guaranteed to elevate the Taliban.

Finally, I'm skeptical that this prevents Al Qaeda from doing anything. Planning for 9/11 happened in Europe, not Afghanistan. Most of the perpetrators were Saudis. Al Qaeda appears ensconced in the Pashtun, a murky border area encompassing parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their presence there has little to do with the Taliban.

I don't know what the answer is. I'm pretty sure that it's not to send more troops into what looks like a no-win situation...


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6 comments:

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Hard as people try, I don't think anyone has the answer. I suppose this tact is as good as any. You raise good questions, but in the end I too agree that a deadline should be established. If we haven't reached our goal in 18 months then perhaps it is better to get out then than spend more $$$ and lives (both U.S. & other lives) on a no-win situation. I think we do the best we can with what we know at the time. I can accept these terms as long as we operate from a truthful position.

K. said...

I am definitely opposed to an open-ended commitment. We'd be there forever. My questions are more aimed at wondering what we're doing there at all.

Bill said...

We're there to provide security for a corrupt president and his gangster brother who controls the majority of heroin production in Afghanistan.

I know that sounds cynical and I know that the government will spit out platitudes about protecting us from terrorism, but really that's what we're ACTUALLY doing there.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

wonderfully put. you articulate what I feel so perfectly.

thank you.

sussah said...

I think we should get out of Iraq and Afghanistan now. People joke that it takes 18 months to repair any tiny road-bridge in New Orleans. What is so sacrosanct about 18 months? How about now? I love President Obama, and normally go with him on blind faith. I did like when he said that the only nation he is interested in building is our own. sp, n.o.

Renegade Eye said...

The US fell into the Taliban's trap. Along with Pakistan ISI, they came up with the idea of let them attack, we'll retreat, than fight them as occupiers. They have experience fighting in mountain ranges.

See this.