Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lost in Afghanistan

The sight of our troops muddling around unable to achieve what we went there to do, and without direction in getting their job done, is a sad comment on our leadership. I was glad that Obama started his trip there. Comments from Chris Edelson at The Seminal are a good analysis of how this affects the public following the trip.

It is significant that Barack Obama began his much-discussed trip abroad in Afghanistan, not Iraq. in recent days, Obama has succeeded in shifting debate from Iraq to Afghanistan, while McCain has struggled to keep up, essentially doing his best to adopt Obama's point that more troops are needed in Afghanistan. While the media has essentially forgotten about Afghanistan, Obama has been arguing for months that Bush and McCain's obsession with Iraq caused us to take our eye off Afghanistan and Pakistan–a region that actually has something to do with getting Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Until very recently, McCain rejected this view, repeatedly calling Iraq "the central front in the war on terror" and dismissing calls to redeploy troops to Afghanistan. After Obama's recent speech arguing that the misguided war in Iraq distracted us from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and calling for a new strategy that would take the fight to Al Qaeda in its safe haven, McCain claimed he, too, would move troops from Iran to Afghanistan (though he quickly "revised" his position, ambiguously suggesting some of new troops might come from other countries.)

Seth Colter Walls at Huffington Post rightly concludes that McCain is adrift here, furiously trying to out-Obama on Obama. Much of the rest of the media, however, focuses on McCain's chest-thumping claim that he "knows how to win wars" and will solve the problem simply by doing in Afghanistan exactly what has been done in Iraq.

A Middle East student who has despaired of the U.S. inability to understand, or act in our best interests in, the situation there, Barnett Rubin was interviewed on the conflict there yesterday:

...I think that is because they essentially didn't understand the regional situation, and they seemed—. I'll just talk about the United States, you know, the Bush administration. They were just focused on al-Qaeda and the terrorist threat. They had a very superficial analysis of Pakistan—not everybody in the government, of course. There are many professional people in the government who understand the situation. But as far as the top leadership was concerned, they had a relationship with President Musharraf, and President Musharraf was willing to use his security forces to arrest Arabs from al-Qaeda who came into Pakistan from time to time. And they really put all of their analytical resources into dealing with Iraq, and put Afghanistan kind of on autopilot, and didn't recognize, first of all, that just having an election in Afghanistan was far from sufficient to stabilize the country, you know, just defeating the previous government and having an election. There were all kinds of governance issues, which prevented the government from really controlling the territory. And second, that Pakistan still really did not consider the Taliban to be an enemy the way that the United States did. In fact, the Pakistan military considered the Taliban to be a resource for the security of Pakistan.

The incompetence the cretin in chief has shown in conducting occupations without any comprehension of the formation of societies he invades is a disheartening sight. What the U.S. has suffered is only a small portion of the misery this moron has inflicted everywhere he has touched.

The campaign is a welcome relief to the unmitigated horror show that we have watched in the Middle east for almost eight years. We can hope that enough voters will see that the continuation of this lack of knowledge, intelligence, and capabilities would be disastrous. "Stay the course" was the mantra for many too many years, and the course was never defined.

Can we survive 186 more days.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Obama gang is delighted that their God has found a war McCain didn't think about. Both Obama and McCain are wrong on Afghanistan. The different experts mentioned are not correct either. First, Afghanistan is hardly part of the Middle East, this English empire term that sees the world centered in London. From Mombai, the same geographical area will be called the Near West.

Afghanistan didn't become a state because billion needed for that were sent to Haliburton through Iraq. The Taliban are an insurgency; you never fight insurgencies with huge armies; it's not going to work.

What we need to do now is start the flow of money to reconstruct Afghanistan, build the roads they need, modernize their hospital, etc. At the same time, small forces can push the Taliban far enough not to hamper reconstruction.

Progressives don't offer substitute wars.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Dr. John Maszka said...

Taking the war to Pakistan is perhaps the most foolish thing America can do. Obama is not the first to suggest it, and we already have sufficient evidence of the potentially negative repercussions of such an action. On January 13, 2006, the United States launched a missile strike on the village of Damadola, Pakistan. Rather than kill the targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, the strike instead slaughtered 17 locals. This only served to further weaken the Musharraf government and further destabilize the entire area. In a nuclear state like Pakistan, this was not only unfortunate, it was outright stupid. Pakistan has 160 million people (better than half of the population of the entire Arab world). Pakistan also has the support of China and a nuclear arsenal.

I predict that America’s military action in the Middle East will enter the canons of history alongside Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the Holocaust, in kind if not in degree. The Bush administration’s war on terror marks the age in which America has again crossed a line that many argue should never be crossed. Call it preemption, preventive war, the war on terror, or whatever you like; there is a sense that we have again unleashed a force that, like a boom-a-rang, at some point has to come back to us. The Bush administration argues that American military intervention in the Middle East is purely in self-defense. Others argue that it is pure aggression. The consensus is equally as torn over its impact on international terrorism. Is America truly deterring future terrorists with its actions? Or is it, in fact, aiding the recruitment of more terrorists?

The last thing the United States should do at this point and time is to violate yet another state’s sovereignty. Beyond being wrong, it just isn’t very smart. We all agree that slavery in this country was wrong; as was the decimation of the Native American populations. We all agree that the Holocaust and several other acts of genocide in the twentieth century were wrong. So when will we finally admit that American military intervention in the Middle East is wrong as well?

3:26 PM  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

Bush will get tagged with managing to lose the war in Iraq. Obama will get tagged with losing Afghanistan.

Subject peoples no longer accept occupation in the global village; and the same village mostly (Tibet excepted?) discourages extermination by the occupiers, the only way to win(?)

8:35 AM  

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