Don’t give up on Afghanistan, Mr. President

So when did we start speaking of Afghanistan as though it were Iraq?

I seem to recall that the people who wanted us out of Iraq, until very recently were saying:

  • Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan is the must-win war.
  • Afghanistan is the place that harbored Osama bin Laden and others responsible for 9/11.
  • It’s horrible the way we have neglected our commitments there (to spend resources on Iraq).

I mean, Barack Obama, who during the campaign would tell anyone who would listen how HE was the guy who had been against our involvement in Iraq from the beginning, was also one of the most aggressively belligerent U.S. politicians when it came to Afghanistan, and to the al Qaeda hideouts across the border in Pakistan.

And when he came into office, it looked like he was going to follow through. Not only that, it appeared that he was going to be sensible about our Iraq commitments, which was very reassuring.

Now, I read with horror this piece today in The State:

On Monday, McChrystal sent his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, the U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and NATO. Although the assessment didn’t include any request for more troops, senior military officials said they expect McChrystal later in September to seek between 21,000 and 45,000 more troops. There currently are 62,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

However, administration officials said that amid rising violence and casualties, polls that show a majority of Americans now think the war in Afghanistan isn’t worth fighting. With tough battles ahead on health care, the budget and other issues, Vice President Joe Biden and other officials are increasingly anxious about how the American public would respond to sending additional troops…

Say what? We’ve got our finger in the wind on Afghanistan now? We’re checking the polls to see if we’re going to fight the freaking Taliban, the guys who coddled Osama while he was dreaming up the Big One?

What is wrong with this country? And does a country that would let things come to this pass deserve to survive, in evolutionary terms? Apart from standing up and fighting for what is right and against what is demonstrably not only wrong but horrifically so, are we truly not willing to fight against those who would like to see us dead? What sort of organism, or social structure, gives up to that extent?

7 thoughts on “Don’t give up on Afghanistan, Mr. President

  1. doug_ross

    Kill them before they kill us… and kill innocent people in trying to achieve that objective. That’s the American way apparently.

    ‘Cept we can’t seem to figure out how to kill them all even after eight years. And no matter what we call it or how many troops we throw at the problem, it is highly unlikely that we can prevent every terrorist attack whenever the Taliban decides to do it again. We can spend billions in Afghanistan and the terrorists who will execute the next attack may not even be there.

    Might doesn’t make right.

  2. Brad Warthen

    Doug, we KNOW how to kill them all. We could do that in minutes, and not even get our hair mussed doing it. We could phone it in.

    It’s this trying just to kill the bad guys, while helping the other folks build a nation, that’s tough. But necessary.

  3. Karen McLeod

    We had it won, and the country ready to build, until we invaded Iraq. Now the question is, can we isolate the Taliban quickly enough while avoiding doing so much damage to the rest of the population that they take up arms against us? That, I fear, is going to take a major build up. If we don’t do it quickly and clearly (that is make it clear that we will strike to destroy the Taliban and Al-qaida, and then do so consistently), we will not be able to win this war, and rebuild this country. After all, they must be pretty disgusted with us. After waging war on their country with all the horrors that war brings, we then put them on ‘hold’ while we went elsewhere. AFter that the Afghans are unlikely to believe that we mean them well, and that siding with us is going to improve their lives. You are right, this is a war we need to win, but can we?

  4. Burl Burlingame

    Doing it long-distance is a sure way to create new enemies. Like many in that part of the world, the Afghans appreciate face time as a sign of dedication.

  5. doug_ross

    What “war” are we talking about? There is no war. Who are we at war with?

    We have a military that thinks the best solution is always the one that requires the most firepower.

    It’s sad to think how naive some people can be in terms of thinking that the Taliban is some sort of military organization that can be defeated one terrorist at a time and that all we need to do is double, triple, quadruple the number of troops we put in harms way to eradicate terrorism.

  6. doug_ross

    That radical leftist, George Will, says it’s time to get out of Afghanistan.

    Some key quotes:

    “The U.S. strategy is “clear, hold and build.” Clear? Taliban forces can evaporate and then return, confident that U.S. forces will forever be too few to hold gains. Hence nation-building would be impossible even if we knew how, and even if Afghanistan were not the second-worst place to try: The Brookings Institution ranks Somalia as the only nation with a weaker state. ”

    “Afghanistan’s $23 billion gross domestic product is the size of Boise’s. Counterinsurgency doctrine teaches, not very helpfully, that development depends on security, and that security depends on development. Three-quarters of Afghanistan’s poppy production for opium comes from Helmand. In what should be called Operation Sisyphus, U.S. officials are urging farmers to grow other crops. Endive, perhaps? ”

    “U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000, to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning. Counterinsurgency theory concerning the time and the ratio of forces required to protect the population indicates that, nationwide, Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.

    So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.

    Genius, said de Gaulle, recalling Bismarck’s decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870, sometimes consists of knowing when to stop. Genius is not required to recognize that in Afghanistan, when means now, before more American valor, such as Allen’s, is squandered. “


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