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On Afghanistan, No Good Options for Obama

By Ben Pershing
Does President Obama have a good option in Afghanistan?

In a week that will be dominated by White House deliberations over the way forward in the war effort, the debates both inside and outside the administration seem centered on deciding which is the least bad strategy: Add thousands more troops, and become more bogged down in a country with an unreliable government and an increasingly hostile population. Leave altogether, and let the Taliban resume control and rebuild a base for international terrorism. Choose a middle ground, and anger both sides with no endgame in sight.

Perhaps Obama's coterie of advisers has a better idea, but the president's top brass hope not to read about it in the newspaper. One day after James Jones sent a message to Stanley McChrystal by saying military advice should "come up through the chain of command," Robert Gates made the same point in blunter terms. The Defense secretary said everyone involved in the decision-making process should "provide our best advice to the president candidly but privately." (Walter Pincus argues that anyone who suggests McChrystal "is pressuring the White House to accept his ideas or else didn't pay close attention to his remarks last week in London," which included several qualifiers.)

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By Ben Pershing  |  October 6, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Next: As Obama Faces Afghanistan Decision, Old Debates - and Dangers - Reemerge


Oh come on now,as our Incompetent Absentee
Commander in Chief Barack Hussein Obama,
would not know what his own Joint Chiefs
of Staff are talking about doing in Obama's
Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,since Obama has never served a single day in our US
Military but yet the Dimwit Dummercrats
got Obama elected President and so,only a
total fool would buy Obama's BS about needing more time to decide what to do about them,along with the fact Obama must be a Covert Muslim Terrorist that loves to
get our own US Troops killed by the Taliban
or Al_Qeada. It is time to Impeach Obama!

Posted by: Patty2009 | October 7, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Like LBJ did in Vietnam, Obama has turned Afghanistan into a political action, thereby insuring another defeat for the United States.

Posted by: Jerzy | October 6, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

There IS a third option on Afghanistan, the one that George Bush should have chosen in 2001.

The US should present the criminal case against the 9/11 perpetrators to the International Criminal Court for prosecution, withdraw US forces from Afghanistan (and of course Iraq as well), and formally present our grievances against the Taliban to the UN for internationally coordinated actions...presumably it would be economic and political sanctions.

This would be smart, legal, cost effective, respectful of international institutions and national boundaries, a life-saver for Afghans caught in the deadly crossfire, etc.

Posted by: DavidinMexico | October 6, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Then it's a good thing the public isn't paying attention to Afghanistan. This is strictly a media-driven story...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | October 6, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Surely, there is no good option for Obama because he continued George Bush's policy and rhetoric in Afghanistan, such as "we are going to stay there until we defeat Al Qaeda," to please the republicans.
The indisputable fact, therefore, is: "The war in Afghanistan continues for domestic consumption," because Baraq Obama has become now a hostage of his own tough domestic consumption rhetoric. And upon that rhetoric, General McChrystal built the idea of flooding Afghanistan with more U.S. troops to win - as General Westmorland did during the Vietnam war- because president Lyndon Johnson was also bragging to the press "We are going to defeat the North Vietnamese and the VietCong in the battlefield" for domestic consumption!

But now the clouds get darker in Central Asia as the Pakistanis started to balk at the stipulations of the $1.5 billion U.S. aid package. In short- the U.S. wants to send the 1000 staff to monitor how it will
be spend. And certainly the U.S. want it to be spend to exterminate the Taliban, without any benefit provided
to the Pakistan economy or the population. Pakistani senator Tariq Aziz called the stipulations "the charter
for new colonization." (N.Y.Times, Oct. 5, 2009) And the army commanders, and many politicians are becoming
aghast with the increasing superimposing of U.S. dominance over every function of their government.

An increase of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, therefore, will widen the conflict, and that will certainly demand
an increased cooperation from Pakistan. But if the Pakistanis are already feeling "colonized by the U.S.," increased U.S. pressure on them will probably cause an implosion, or a military coup by nationalist army
officers with unforeseen consequences. Expanding the war in Afghanistan, therefore, and pushing Pakistan into complete subservience will be a catastrophic mistake which definitely the U.S. will come to regret.
The focus of the U.S. review, therefore, should be on disengaging from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and help them financially to settle things down. Any other option would definitely be insane because the boiling anti-U.S. hatred in both countries is skyrocketing, ans wars were never won against fanatical resistance from the
population in any war theater.
Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Posted by: Nikos_Retsos | October 6, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

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