Deep Doubts About Obama’s Afghanistan Strategy

I believe that winning in Afghanistan is absolutely essential to America’s national security. Losing would give a huge propaganda victory to Al-Qaeda, could allow them to use that country as a base for terrorism again, and could destabilize Pakistan, which could lead to Al-Qaeda getting their hands on nuclear weapons — and all that is setting aside the fact that we’re there in the first place as a direct result of 9/11. If we don’t have the guts to stick it out and win after that attack, what message does it send to the world?

That being said, I have deep concerns about the situation we now find ourselves in. We have overly restrictive rules-of-engagement in place that are getting our troops killed. We have a weak, vacilliating President who’s clearly not committed to victory.

Moreover, I hate to say this, because Stanley McChrystal has forgotten more about warfare than someone like me will ever know, but I question the military strategy we’re using. These comments that McChrystal has made, trouble me a great deal:

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Wednesday that the Afghan government and its international partners should use the coming 18 months to convince the Taliban they can’t win and offer militants a way to quit the insurgency “with dignity.”

Gen. Stanley McChrystal made the call after President Barack Obama announced he was sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to the war-ravaged country. If conditions are right, Obama said American troops could begin leaving Afghanistan in 18 months.

So, suppose they decide to hunker down in caves and in Pakistani villages for 19 months and wait for America to quit “with dignity?” : Then what?

There are so many questions right now, that we have no answer for:

* If Afghanistan hasn’t managed to build a competent military by now, why do we think they can do it in 18 months?

* Can we eradicate the guerrilla forces in that country AND in Pakistan in 18 months? History says “no.”

* If you’re an Afghan tribesman and you know the Americans will be gone in 18 months, but the Taliban will still be around, why would you genuinely cooperate with the Americans?

* Should we be going small and arming and paying off different tribes instead of going big and using foreign forces?

At this point, I have a lot of doubts about whether what we’re doing right now in Afghanistan is going to be successful — and they’re compounded by the nebbish we have in the White House — who cares little for victory and seems to make life and death decisions based on how the polls look.

I’m hopeful that Obama will show some spine or that our strategy will be more successful than it looks like it’s going to be today because there’s a lot riding on success in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it’s very uncertain whether our President’s strategy is going to produce victory. Were I a betting man, I’d have to say it looks more likely that these half measures will lead to defeat.

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