Will Obama Risk His Presidency On Afghanistan?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by AAAintheBeltway, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. Why would Obama want to follow Bush's flawed strategy? This thing reminds me of Vietnam. We are spending a fortune and losing lives "protecting" a country which doesn't seem interested in fighting and whose leaders spend more time complaining about us than they do fighting their enemy. The enemy has a protected sanctuary, and an apparently endless source of money, men and materiel. The only vital interest we seem to have there is an interest in not taking a defeat.

    I think Obama needs to give this situation a serious rethink. A liberal democrat administration is never going to be willing to do what would be necessary to defeat the taliban, ie launch all out attacks on their pakistan sanctuary and authorize scortched earth attacks on them in afghanistan. Neither afghan nor the pakistan governments would go along either. The alternative is an endless, expensive war with the possibility of large numbers of casualties.


    Buchanan 762
    Comments Obama's War
    by Patrick J. Buchanan

    Just two months after the twin towers fell, the armies of the Northern Alliance marched into Kabul. The Taliban fled.

    The triumph was total in the "splendid little war" that had cost one U.S. casualty. Or so it seemed. Yet, last month, the war against the Taliban entered its eighth year, the second longest war in our history, and America and NATO have never been nearer to strategic defeat.

    So critical is the situation that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in Kandahar last week, promised rapid deployment, before any Taliban spring offensive, of two and perhaps three combat brigades of the 20,000 troops requested by Gen. David McKiernan. The first 4,000, from the 10th Mountain, are expected in January.

    With 34,000 U.S. soldiers already in country, half under NATO command, the 20,000 will increase U.S. forces there to 54,000, a 60 percent ratcheting up. Shades of LBJ, 1964-65. Afghanistan is going to be Obama's War. And upon its outcome will hang the fate of his presidency. Has he thought this through?

    How do we win this war, if by winning we mean establishing a pro-Western democratic government in control of the country that has the support of the people and loyalty of an Afghan army strong enough to defend the nation from a resurgent Taliban?

    We are further from that goal going into 2009 than we were five years ago.

    What are the long-term prospects for any such success?

    Each year, the supply of opium out of Afghanistan, from which most of the world's heroin comes, sets a new record. Payoffs by narcotics traffickers are corrupting the government. The fanatically devout Taliban had eradicated the drug trade, but is now abetting the drug lords in return for money for weapons to kill the Americans.

    Militarily, the Taliban forces are stronger than they have been since 2001, moving out of the south and east and infesting half the country. They have sanctuaries in Pakistan and virtually ring Kabul.

    U.S. air strikes have killed so many Afghan civilians that President Karzai, who controls little more than Kabul, has begun to condemn the U.S. attacks. Predator attacks on Taliban and al-Qaida in Pakistan have inflamed the population there.

    And can pinprick air strikes win a war of this magnitude?

    The supply line for our troops in Afghanistan, which runs from Karachi up to Peshawar through the Khyber Pass to Kabul, is now a perilous passage. Four times this month, U.S. transport depots in Pakistan have been attacked, with hundred of vehicles destroyed.

    Before arriving in Kandahar, Gates spoke grimly of a "sustained commitment for some protracted period of time. How many years that is, and how many troops that is ... nobody knows."

    Gen. McKiernan says it will be at least three or four years before the Afghan army and police can handle the Taliban.

    But why does it take a dozen years to get an Afghan army up to where it can defend the people and regime against a Taliban return? Why do our Afghans seem less disposed to fight and die for democracy than the Taliban are to fight and die for theocracy? Does their God, Allah, command a deeper love and loyalty than our god, democracy?

    McKiernan says the situation may get worse before it gets better. Gates compares Afghanistan to the Cold War. "(W)e are in many respects in an ideological conflict with violent extremists. ... The last ideological conflict we were in lasted about 45 years."

    That would truly be, in Donald Rumsfeld's phrase, "a long, hard slog."

    America, without debate, is about to invest blood and treasure, indefinitely, in a war to which no end seems remotely in sight, if the commanding general is talking about four years at least and the now-and-future war minister is talking about four decades.

    What is there to win in Afghanistan to justify doubling down our investment? If our vital interest is to deny a sanctuary there to al-Qaida, do we have to build a new Afghanistan to accomplish that? Did not al-Qaida depart years ago for a new sanctuary in Pakistan?

    What hope is there of creating in this tribal land a democracy committed to freedom, equality and human rights that Afghans have never known? What is the expectation that 54,000 or 75,000 U.S. troops can crush an insurgency that enjoys a privileged sanctuary to which it can return, to rest, recuperate and recruit for next year's offensive? Of all the lands of the earth, Afghanistan has been among the least hospitable to foreigners who come to rule, or to teach them how they should rule themselves.

    Would Dwight D. Eisenhower -- who settled for the status quo ante in Korea, an armistice at the line of scrimmage -- commit his country to such an open-ended war? Would Richard Nixon? Would Ronald Reagan?

    Hard to believe. George W. Bush would. But did not America vote against Bush? Why is America getting seamless continuity when it voted for significant change?
  2. A few things.

    Obama thinks he can end oil dependancy in 10 years. He thinks he can fix the economy with a billion dollar stimulus package. He thinks he can be the president that provides Universal healthcare. With his blind ambition I am sure he thinks he can catch Osama within a few months or even weeks. Most likely there will be a couple hundred American casualties and he will after already creating a surge depart from that wasteland.

    Just think if you were Obama. Would it not be extremely attractive to catch Osama after just a few months or even a year?

    Obama will do much to please the liberals. To catch Osama would hugely increase his favorability among conservatives. Obama does not want to be loved by the liberals. He wants to be the greatest president there ever was.
  3. As you know AAA I've said it before but I hope I'm wrong, Obama will escalate war in Afghanistan to such a level that war with Pakistan is inevitable. We know how India will play it but we have no clue if China will remain mute.

    I suspect that the impending war will be so brutal that GWB and Iraq will be the most minor of footnotes-like Korea, a war 10x more deadly than Iraq but barely remembered.

    Pakistan's semi-moderate, semi-majority populace will embrace Jihadists along the border if we engage the show of force advocated by Obama.

    As the economy sinks American's and our allies will clamor for war. We'll buy into the populist war mongering bullshit. Obama will earnestly tell American's that we're finally fighting the "real terrorists" and former Bush is Hitler peaceniks will suddenly revel in the destruction of Islam by American bombers.
  4. Excellent insight Pabst.

    And for those that don't know it, a successful strategic military plan for Afghanistan will call for a much different operation than the one that we ( and most Americans ) have become accustomed to in Iraq.

    Afghanistan is a WHOLE different animal and ballgame. And it's not just a matter of sending in a certain number of troops.
    The Russians had between 120,000 and 180,000 ground troops during their 10 years of war there. It didn't work.
    There is no infrastructure in
    Afghanistan, and the Taliban likes it like that.

    "Taliban control begins where the paved road ends," and explains why the Taliban is so concentrated on preventing the growth of infrastructure into rural areas. The only projection of central government power that reaches these areas is generally the Afghan National Police, which when stationed at remote outposts, cannot be paid as the cash transit is too risky in uncontrolled areas. This situation leads to a gread deal of corruption ( paying bribes ) which further undermines the central government's authority while pushing moderate citizens over to the Taliban."

    In many respects, Afghanistan is much more of a "beehive" than Iraq.
  5. Wag's I look upon Pakistan as the policy end game that merely starts in Afghanistan. On a virtually daily basis either we're taking out Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan or they're killing a few coalition troops motoring through in convoys. The election, economy and holidays have kept it well under the radar of the media but these intrusions on the border are becoming serious stuff. And you're very right. Iraq is a developed nation compared to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  6. Agreed 100%.
    Iraq IS in fact a "developed" nation with a centralized government compared to the rural setting of Afghanistan.

    MAJOR investments must be made to create modern physical and political infrastructure in order to gain the support of the Afghan people. This means building roads and power/water distribution systems, removing corrupt government officials, arresting warloards, and combating the drug trade and poppy production.

    Right now, it is estimated that 1/5th of the average Afghan's income goes to paying bribes due to the significant amount of corruption that exists. It is the epitome of the "Wild, Wild, West".

    On another note, the defense stocks are very cheap.
    Particularly LLL and GD, with no (underfunded) pension expense headwinds like those of the large primes, NOC and LMT.