Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Afghanistan -- Where's Our Leadership?

We tax all the others and pass the revenue on to you

The administration can't decide what to do in Afghanistan. No surprise, I can't think of a single invader/occupier/major influence in history that has successfully handled that problem. Certainly Bush wasn't up to the task, nor Clinton.

The NYTimes tells us today that the prez and his top advisers met and couldn't come up with a consensus on what to do. So, naturally, they're going to hold more meetings. That's what politicians do when they won't make a decision that they may be held to account for.

VP Biden -- who never served in the military because he was "pre-occupied" (thank you Wikipedia) -- wants us to reduce our forces, generally ignore the Taliban and concentrate on surgical strikes on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan using Special Forces and air. Call it the Arthur Tedder approach to modern warfare. And btw, no war has ever been won by air power alone. Or did you forget?

The problem is, the Taliban is not planning a corresponding pull-back. Biden wants to involve fewer troops and concentrate on one enemy and generally ignore the other. Trouble is, they're intermingled. Biden's plan would be like (and here I show my age) ignoring the Viet Cong, withdrawing troops and concentrating our remaining forces on the NVA.

Hey, wait a minute. That IS what we did in Vietnam. Do you remember the outcome? I do. How much more proof do we need that this is an idiotic strategy?

There's not a single "thing" in Afghanistan worth the life of one American soldier. Nothing, because there isn't anything of value IN Afghanistan. It is a hiding place for our enemies and that's why we're there, to kill our enemies. Therefore, our strategy should be to kill or capture as many of our enemies as we can and destroy their means to resist. If we destroy the opium crop or stabilize a faltering government in the process, fine, but that's NOT why we should be there. Whatever it takes, that should be our strategy. If it's NOT our strategy then our soldiers are dying in vain.

Are our soldiers dying in vain? That is a forbidden statement in DC, the idea that we may, yet again, be sacrificing our best and brightest without cause. Any politician who utters it is afraid of it being used against him in the next campaign. As in, "Why did you vote to send our troops into harm's way when you couldn't even define why you're doing it?"

Alexander the Great failed in Afghanistan. So did the British Empire and the Soviet Empire. The Soviets had armor and complete control of the air, just we do today, and they still couldn't do it, even with more than twice as many troops as we have there today.

Nuclear weapons, even tactical nukes, are permanently out of the question. At least we hope they are, along with chemical and biological weapons. So then what? It seems that we're stuck with the same two choices we had in 1971: We either make a truly massive commitment of our armed forces or we get the heck out of Dodge.

Either choice involves heavy risk and cost. Either choice may, likely will, end political careers. Either choice will certainly have major unintended consequences. But either choice is better than no choice. Either choice plans an end game and charts a course toward it. Either choices staunches the blood.

So choose, Mr. President. You've had enough meetings. You've listened to your most trusted advisors. You know that Gen. McChrystal wants more troops and VP Biden wants fewer and you know how to weigh the value of all those recommendations. You'll be surprised how many of us will rally around you if you chart a well-reasoned course for us in Afghanistan.

Please, Mr. President, just make a decision.

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In modern war... you will die like a dog for no good reason.
Ernest Hemingway

1 comment:

  1. You are RIGHT! Too bad the people who should be reading this are all in meetings.