Cynical Synapse

Fri, 13 Nov 2009

Obama Just Dithering on Afghanistan

Taliban lay waste to Afghan countryside.

On his way to visit the Orient, President Barack Obama stopped off at Elmsdorf Air Force Base in Alaska. He told the crowd there:

I will never hesitate to use force to protect America.…

I will not risk your lives unless it is necessary to America’s vital interests. And if it is necessary, the United States of America will have your back. We’ll give you the strategy and clear mission you deserve….That is a promise that I make to you.

Karzai resists runoff election

Okay, so here’s where I’m confused. At his 8th Afghanistan strategy meeting since mid-September, Obama gave his planning team a redo. WTF? Ironically, Obama tossed out the four options presented to him on Veterans’ Day. It’s been 2 months since the request for 40,000 troops from Gen. Stanley McChrystal. His boss, Gen. David Petraeus, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullen, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates all endorsed McChrystal’s plan.

The Afghan war is in direct response to the 9-11 attacks. It is inextricably tied to our national security and the defense of Pakistan, a nuclear power. The resurgence of the Taliban only makes the region more volatile and critical. When California Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein says the mission is in serious jeopardy, you know you’re already behind the power curve.

Stryker destroyed by an IED

Iraq took the focus off Afghanistan and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fired Gen. Shinseki, Chief of Staff of the Army, for saying the US needed a lot more boots on the ground. Lo and behold, after toppling Saddam Hussein, civil order in Iraq disintegrated. It took a troop surge and 4 years to fix that fatal error. Along the way, though, we learned a lesson. Protecting the people works. On top of that, Gen. McChrystal was directly involved in Iraq operations during the surge. A similar move in Afghanistan will protect the people from the Taliban and make it harder for those who want to fight to join the Taliban. As security improves, there will be more trust for the government and, therefore, more willingness to be part of its Army and Police. Sounds like setting ourselves up for success, if you ask me.

Apparently we’ve not learned the lessons of Vietnman or Rumsfeld II since Obama doesn’t seem to be listening to his military experts. Not deciding what to do in Afghanistan shows a lack of leadership, a lack of a strategy, or a refusal to decide. There’s a growing feeling the latter is the case, considering every little upset adds weeks to the decision process. Since there aren’t enough troops in Afghanistan, and those that are there don’t have the right equipment, choosing not to decide would be criminal. It would be tantamount to failing to take action with MAJ Hasan’s warning signs.

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