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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Support Obama On Afghanistan

Afghanistan is one issue around which there should be bi-partisan support. The consequences of the Taliban taking over the country and giving al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups a home base is too much to risk.

Obama seems to have a profound sense that the stakes are greater than the latest poll numbers. The strategy he is pursuing is yet to be fully defined, but it appears that he is taking into consideration the strategic advice of the military rather than the strategic advice of his pollsters. Whether Obama picks a good strategy and whether he shows the determination to see it through remains to be seen.

The one thing which is clear, however, is that Obama needs the support of the country. Unlike Obama's other weak or counter-productive foreign policy positions (Honduras and Iran, as examples), Obama understands that weakness in Afghanistan will lead to disaster.

Obama seems to have learned the right lessons from the Iraq surge, which is not necessarily to send more troops, but that failure cannot be a policy.

The Democrats in Congress who declared Iraq lost and the surge sure to fail (including Obama himself at the time) cannot be trusted with national security now anymore so than in the past. The Democrats in Congress still are fighting George Bush. The rest of us are fighting against an ideology of death.

The supporters of the people who flew planes into the World Trade Center would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance. At least Obama seems determined not to give them that chance, and for that he deserves our support.

UPDATE: Supporting Obama on Afghanistan does not meaning we stop asking hard questions, such as Four Marines Dead: Who Changed the Rules of Engagement?

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  1. Right you are, Professor. There already is a disturbing tendency among the conservative commentariat and bloggers to hedge about Afganistan, perhaps in the hope of being able to throw eggs at Obama.

    However, one thing that's missing from nearly all the reportage and commentary on the AfPak wars is this: by far, the most effective actions against al Qaeda since Sept. 2001 to the present have been led or engineered by CIA. From the outset, the military has lagged, blundered and screwed up, while CIA has been fast, flexible and inventive. Right after 9/11, it developed that the Pentagon had no contingency plans to operate inside Afganistan, notwithstanding the known threat there. The first CIA Jawbreaker team was on the ground in the Panshjir Valley on 9/23 and would be there for nearly a month before joined by the first SOF team (and the Special Ops Forces are the FAST guys). It was CIA teams that scooped up most of the al Qaeda captives inside Afganistan and elsewhere. And it's CIA that is tracking terrorists inside Pakistan and knocking them off (or forcing them to keep their heads down) with Hellfire missiles today.

    My point is that while holding Afganistan and beating back the Taliban are essential jobs that onlyn a beefed-up military can do, the job of defeating al Qaeda will fall to CIA. So the whole Obama-Holder-Pelosi assault on CIA may be crippling and undermine whatever gains McChrystal can make, even with 50,000 more troops.

  2. Until the Obama Administration can tell us their Long term stratagy for Afghanistan; Then show the public he has read Hopkirk's Great Game series about Afghanistan (If the Bush Administaration had not studied their history, AQ would be stronger today), then I will follow.

    I will give the same deference to President Obama that Senator Obama and the Left gave President Bush.

  3. Andy McCarthy and Richard Fernandez have both written interesting pieces on this:
    I hope the president has the stomach to aggressively prosecute this war to its end. But I can't say that I have any faith that such is the case. I fear he's just going to go through the motions, but I'm willing to have him prove me wrong (and in this instance, sincerely hope he does).

  4. "Afghanistan is one issue around which there should be bi-partisan support. The consequences of the Taliban taking over the country and giving al-Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups a home base is too much too risk."

    As though.

    Way too black and white. We can keep track of Afghanistan without 100,000 troops there, forever.

    It's as though the word "waste" has been deleted from the dictionary. The Spanish Armada was "wasted" when it was sent to England, and Americas army is being "wasted" in Afghanistan. A day may come, when we really need the miltary. Thanks for nothing.

  5. Last I heard, strategy in Afghanistan was changed by Obama to pull forces back into the cities and protect the civilian population. This is also known as ceding the countryside to the enemy. It's a strategy that has proven to guarantee failure repeatedly.

    From that I conclude that either Obama is too stupid to understand even the simplest military matters, or that he intends to lose. Either way, I do not support him.

  6. "Supporting Obama on Afghanistan does not meaning we stop asking hard questions"

    That's an easy question, actually: General McChrystal, about two months ago after much consideration. However, ROEs are classified.

    How did proper application of ROE result in the deaths of four Marines? Nothing in the linked story indicates that happened.

  7. Sorry but it doesn't really matter who's in the White House, Afghanistan is a lost cause. Not for any political reason. It's simply a country that isn't ready to be what we want it to be. I've talked to guys who conduct the training over there of the local army and they are frustrated beyond belief. These are the dumbest, most inbred people you will ever meet. Only like 10 or 15 percent of the country is literate. They have huge problems with soldiers being issued clothes and gear only to turn around and sell it. Simply put the whole country isn't ready to join the rest of us in even the 20th century much less the 21st. Pouring more blood and treasure into this problem will only fix it if we're prepared to do it for DECADES. Why continue to waste money we don't have?

  8. Hey guys. Too one dimentional. Here's what I know after three trips over there. (and more coming oh boy) We are not there to "win" but to keep bad guys fighting and dieing there and not here. The Afghan people are certainly poor and uneducated, but they are also intelligent and couragious. As they are lead, so they will fight. In Afghanistan there is no unity of command or of mission; everyone is doing their own thing. Sort of War as a Social Statement, thing. My CIC thinks that war is a sickness and that soldiers are a symptom. He'll stamp all this business out starting with the symptoms as soon as he thinks he can get away with it. So, in this case; give the soldiers the benefit of the doubt;(all the soldiers including the ANA) and the resorces and the command to do the job and stand back and support that effort and we'll accomplish the mission! Other wise we'll continue to die on the vine. Happy talk to the contrary is not helpful. Its easy in our happy homes in this happy land to speak happy talk. Happy talk is a lot tougher to dredge up in Afghanistan when it is just one more day of impossiabilities and death. The CIC is in the Whitehouse soaking up the celebrity. The American Soldier is in the dirt doing a dirty, thankless job that few can comprehend.
    Just a soldier.

  9. To support Obama on his incompetant and foolish strategy in Afghanistan would be the same as supporting Johnson's strategy in Vietnam. Johnson's strategy led to thousands of unnecessary American deaths and eventual defeat. The same holds true for Obama's inadequate surge and the incompetant General who is refusing to provide the necessary firepower to kill the enemy. Accordingly Obama supports a Taliban/Al Queda sanctuary in Pakistan and Iran. Following this inane strategy is leading to defeat. Obama must not be supported for half measures or measures I think are specifically designed to bring defeat. Don't get trapped as we did with Johnson then Nixon. We need a strategy for victory, otherwise you are destined to relive defeat as it happened in Vietnam.

  10. "We need a strategy for victory, otherwise you are destined to relive defeat as it happened in Vietnam."

    If one thinks we lost in Vietnam, then, yes, this is a good argument, if one is drawing parallels.

    But, if one considers the reverse, that we won the Vietnam war, then, the current strategy would be a winning one, also. At least, it worked once before, one could say.

    In other words, we are not in AF to "win", but to keep the enemy engaged, while we build a strong democracy, or soemthing like it, in Pakistan.

  11. Whoops! Looks like your proper hopes for Obama to fight off his political hacks were too optimistic. How disappointed I am in our current leader.