Obama to send 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan

Finally A Decision?

It took a while since General McChrystal requested additional troops.  Last night as many of you saw, Obama made a speech in which he outlined his “new” Afghanistan strategy.  Folks from each side with be able to pick holes in it, and right now, I can bet, many pundits, “experts,” politicians, bloggers, etc., are writing and talking about what a mistake it is because of something they heard or read in Obama’s speech.  To be sure the plan looks far from perfect, and the future, I am sure, will also prove that it was not perfect.  But before we scream our collective and very partisan heads of , lets think about this for a second.

Whatever you thought of the war in Iraq this was different.  This was the “good war.”  Most of us supported President Bush in the wake of 9-11 and his decision to invade Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  However because of Iraq our attention turned elsewhere and the situation in Afghanistan remained dire.  Underfunded, undermanned, our efforts there have stalled, reversed in fact.  So that leaves us with a question of what the hell do we do now?

We have few choices, each worse than the next.  We can pull out right now, cut our loses and hope for the best.  The anti-war activists, some who come from Obama’s own party, would love nothing else.  But can we really?  Will this solve everything?  Will Afghanistan be able to survive on its own?  I doubt that.  So what’s next?  The Taliban or an equally ruthless dictator takes over (we have seen this film in the 90’s), more civil war, more suffering for the Afghan people.  And an another 9-11 possibly.  Yes.  Your own asses are on the line here and not just some hick Afghans.  Because if we do pull out, it would show that we can be defeated, we are a paper tiger, and America in not that scary.  It would give comfort to those who want to kill us (and whatever else you believe, make no mistake, there are people who want to kill you).  And finally, cynically perhaps, Obama can not afford to pull out.  Bush would not be blamed for the fiasco, Obama would.  Whatever feeble efforts the Bush administration made there they still made them.  Packing up and leaving now would be the worse of options.

Then on the other site Obama will get criticised by the chicken hawks, who would like nothing better than to go “nuclear” on the Afghans.  meaning, a huge increase in troops and an open ended campaign, and nation building.  Well sorry, we can’t afford that.  Our military is overtaxed as it is.  And we can not afford it financially nor politically.  Financially it would mean hundreds of billi0ns of dollars more.  Politically we could not sustain the goodwill of the Afghans, our allies nor of the neutrals.  And yes it matters.  The “fuck you, will do it alone” attitude is boring and has never worked.  And has never been attempted, even by the “fuck you” president George W. Bush.

Obama also set a date.  18 months.  By July of 2011 he expects these troops to start pulling out.  Now the sillier of pundits and “experts” will scream that this just gives a date for our enemies to wait us out and then they’ll rise as soon as we leave.  Which part of “start” do you not understand?  It does not mean that we’ll be gone by the end of that 18 month period.  Obama even set clauses, “depending on the situation.”  We will pull out “responsibly,” yes, meaning that if the situation has not improved enough for us to pull out, we wont.  My god, what a concept!  The dates are set to put pressure on the Afghans themselves.  Knowing that the Yanks are not going to be there forever protecting their corrupted asses, they might actually do something in that time.

The above “critiques” are not something that I just made up, you have, and will hear them, again, and again, depending on who you are watching, reading or listening to, they will present their cases more or less in that way.

So we are left with what appears to be a sensible medium.  A substantial increase in military power to combat AQ and the Taliban, and protect our rebuilding efforts there.  At the same time we will have more capacity to train Afghan military and police force.  30,000 is not the “up to 40,000” requested by McChrystal.  But good enough I believe.  Yes, he did not give the military everything that it wanted, but he gave most.  Which is more than many other presidents have done.  Hopefully this will work, and we can leave Afghanistan a better place than we fount it, and we ourselves will be safer.  But there are no guarantees.

The region is a mess.  Not everything depends on what we do in Afghanistan.  Pakistan matters.  Matters a lot.  Afghanis themselves have to do much more than they have done up till now.  The govt there is ineffective, without us it would fall apart.  This surge might give them the will to go on and move forward.  I still have fears that we will fail.  Its quite possible that we might, even with the surge, or another surge.  But we have to do something.  And right now, President Obama’s new plan seems reasonable, with a reasonable chance of being effective.  Lets hope so, for all our sakes.


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