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Afghanistan Watch

I wrote at length yesterday about Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. If you missed it, read it now: Putting Out Fire -- With Gasoline?

Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times: "The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David D. McKiernan, said Wednesday that the heightened troop levels that President Obama ordered for Afghanistan could remain in place for as long as five years.

"General McKiernan, who spoke at a news conference at the Pentagon a day after Mr. Obama ordered 17,000 additional troops to the country, said that the buildup 'is not a temporary force uplift' and that it was essential to break what he called a stalemate in southern Afghanistan, the epicenter of the Taliban-led insurgency."

Ellen Barry writes in the New York Times: "The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan voted on Thursday to terminate the American military’s eight-year lease on an air base outside the capital, Bishkek, complicating President Obama’s plans to deploy as many as 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan over the next two years."

Fred Kaplan writes for Slate that "whatever Obama eventually does about this war, he pretty much had to send those two brigades now—a move recommended by all his civilian and military advisers—unless, of course, he'd decided just to get out of Afghanistan altogether. But he wasn't going to do that. He has said many times, during the election campaign and since, that as U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq, he would send at least some of them to Afghanistan. And the two brigades that he's sending there now—one Army, one Marine—were originally scheduled to rotate back into Iraq."

And, he concludes: "Whatever President Obama decides to do in Afghanistan, the real danger lies in Pakistan, and its problems lie beyond the powers and jurisdiction of the U.S. military or NATO."

By Dan Froomkin  |  February 19, 2009; 12:37 PM ET
Categories:  Afghanistan  
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Comments

Petraeus is the right man in the right job at the right time and we should let him 1) shore up the Afghan state from further deterioriation from Taliban terrorism and 2) capture, kill and destroy Al-Qaida's leadership and organization.

Pushing back on the Taliban and AlQ where they have sanctuary in Pakistan and Afghanistan is a beginning. Other than insuring security for Paki's nukes, we have little responsibility to the waek shell of a government that now exists in Pakistan. Killing AlQ is the mission. India can join our efforts to insure that no successor government in Pakistan gets nukes by taking out AQ Khan -- or let us do it.

Our interests MUST be focused on killing AlQ and if the Taliban/ISI/Pakis get in the way, they get hurt.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | February 19, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

It would really help if we could reach a detante with Iran so that supplies to US/NATO troops could come in thru southeastern Iran into western Afganistan. Then we wouldn't have to count on the Pakistanis or the Russians. Under the right circumstances, Iran could be a more reliable ally in Afganistan than just about anybody else. There is a large Shia population in central Afganistan, and the Iranians hate the Taliban. The Iranians helped us in the original war in Afganistan in 2001-2002 and (probably) offered a general agreement on outstanding problems. The Bush administration rejected the (apparent) offer and included the recent ally in the "axis of evil."

Posted by: dickdata | February 19, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Petraeus is the right man in the right job at the right time and we should let him 1) shore up the Afghan state from further deterioriation from Taliban terrorism and 2) capture, kill and destroy Al-Qaida's leadership and organization.

--------

Good for you, the general needs your support!

But just for fun and for laughs, tell me how you think the Russians will react to increased American troop presence in Afgahnistan.

And then project the possible outcome for America, both militarily and economically, particularly within the framework of increased guerilla warfare...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | February 19, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Ok,I get it.

The difference between the Jones NSC and the Hadley NSC is the difference between Reagan and Cheney.

And Reagan's people (Jones being the child of a lesser Reagan) were stupid.

Rememeber Haig, anyone?

So, anyway, this is the type of Pentagon and adviser Obama is dealing with, that Obama is enabling -- a Reagan Pentagon and adviser in decline, those who still might think it's 1985, those who really dont see the US as it is and never did, perhaps still caught in the time warp of a Soviet decline they never misunderstood.

But things have changed.

So, why is anyone surprised Obama has mindlessly and stupidly decided to increase troops in Afgahnistan without a plan, or intelligent recon - (and Cheney's moldy oldy Pentagon cheese, the cheese that lost both Iraq and Afghanistan, those who failed to protect the economy), dosen't count.

I swear, Bush holding back seems smarter and smarter, and here we thought the ME disasters were HIS fault.

I'm thinking it's the Pentagon's fault.

They're increasng troops in Afghanistan the same way they approached Iraq, without asking any questions, or the right ones, seemingly a group of unsophisticated bumpkins, militarily, economically and politically, THIS action and war no more than another Andy Hardy movie, a sequel to the show in Iraq.

(And it's not that I'm personally against action in Afgahnistan, but it's the same dynamic, the same people really, we had going into Iraq -- same mistakes, even. It's unconscionable to NOT criticize).


How long until the military starts branding Obama the new Bush, blaming him for Pentagon failures?

(Wait until one of those kooks, in a fit of frustration, recommends nuking the place...Dr Strangelove, here we come!!!!)

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | February 19, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

*they misunderstood, sorry.

But then anyone except a "thinking beaver" would know that's what I meant...

; )

HTH

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | February 19, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Many publications and pundits have asked the question: Will Afghanistan be Obama's Vietnam?

Well, a tragedy like Vietnam isn't the property of any president. It's the property of the entire nation, from those who were involved in formulating the policy to those who suffered and died there, and also including the nation that was split apart over that war.

So the real question, I submit, is: What is the lesson of Vietnam?

I believe the lesson is that the U.S.A. can make a bad, costly, tragic decision, resulting in the unjustified loss of many lives, fail in its endeavor, and still survive and even thrive after its efforts have come to a disappointing, even humiliating conclusion.

And, if it's agreed that I've stated the true lesson of Vietnam, the true questions regarding Afghanistan are: 1. What in fact is the goal of our involvement there? 2. What will it cost to succeed in that policy, in terms of lives and treasure. 3. What are the consequences of failure of our policy there? 4. Assuming that the consequences of failure can be no worse, at worst, than the consequences of failure in Vietnam, and assuming further that failure is a distinct possibility, if not a probability (the Brits and Russians got their butts kicked there, not to mention Alexander the Great; do we really want our troops getting shot apart attacking up hill at 10,000+ feet in the Hindu Kush?), how much suffering must we both inflict and endure before we recognize and accept failure?

Posted by: bfieldk | February 19, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Many publications and pundits have asked the question: Will Afghanistan be Obama's Vietnam?

Well, a tragedy like Vietnam isn't the property of any president. It's the property of the entire nation, from those who were involved in formulating the policy to those who suffered and died there, and also including the nation that was split apart over that war.

So the real question, I submit, is: What is the lesson of Vietnam?

I believe the lesson is that the U.S.A. can make a bad, costly, tragic decision, resulting in the unjustified loss of many lives, fail in its endeavor, and still survive and even thrive after its efforts have come to a disappointing, even humiliating conclusion.

And, if it's agreed that I've stated the true lesson of Vietnam, the true questions regarding Afghanistan are: 1. What in fact is the goal of our involvement there? 2. What will it cost to succeed in that policy, in terms of lives and treasure. 3. What are the consequences of failure of our policy there? 4. Assuming that the consequences of failure can be no worse, at worst, than the consequences of failure in Vietnam, and assuming further that failure is a distinct possibility, if not a probability (the Brits and Russians got their butts kicked there, not to mention Alexander the Great; do we really want our troops getting shot apart attacking up hill at 10,000+ feet in the Hindu Kush?), how much suffering must we both inflict and endure before we recognize and accept failure?

Posted by: bfieldk | February 19, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

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