Saturday, February 07, 2009

Getting His War On

During my weekly visit, I found that articles on the Obama presidency dominated at Watching America. That certainly isn't too surprising, given the apparent worldwide relief at the departure of George W. Bush. Still, the coverage selected by the folks at this useful website included a lot of articles that were at least faintly critical of President Obama's initial moves.

The article I found most interesting was from Germany's Die Zeit, if only because of its headline: "Obama's Wars". As unfair as it may seem, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now in fact President Obama's responsibility.

While the article does have something to say about Iraq, Afghanistan is the real focus, which makes sense. Germany is a NATO ally, and what Obama wants to do is increase troops levels in Afghanistan, presumably with help from NATO. The US will expect its allies to contribute troops and materials to the effort, and that means Germany will be asked to pony up as well.

This should come as no surprise to Europe. President Obama made it clear during his campaign that while he wanted to pull troops out of Iraq, a place they never should have been in the first place, he intended to prosecute the "good war" in Afghanistan to root out the evil terrorist extremists that threaten the entire world.

According to the article, Afghanistan will be a much tougher road than Iraq, something President Obama might not fully appreciate. The war in Iraq might have been complicated by the presence of Iran (another enemy); the war in Afghanistan is complicated by the presence of Pakistan (an ally under the Bush administration, at least at the inception of the war). Further, the tribal loyalties coupled with the rugged terrain have doomed other invading powers with great regularity (Britain, and more recently, the Soviet Union).

What is disturbing is that President Obama is still determined to push for a military victory in Afghanistan, even though that goal has not yet been fully defined. In other words, he is listening to the Pentagon, not to the State Department.

At the very beginning of his time in office, the new president met with one of his most important generals. David Petraeus, current commander of the U.S. Central Command, reported to Barack Obama on the situations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both wars had been initiated by George W. Bush, but Obama wants to end them without having to give up on the U.S. mission to fight terror. ...

Obama now has a new strategy for Afghanistan: more soldiers are meant to protect the population more effectively against violence, since every bomb and every assassination undermines the authority of the government in Kabul. In addition, the tasks for the military will be decreased. Most likely, soldiers will not have to fight al-Qaida, rebellious Pashtuns, the Taliban, drug lords, and smugglers all at the same time anymore. It is planned to win over Pashtun tribes for the fight against Islamic fundamentalists.
[Emphasis added]

Swell: US and NATO forces will only have to fight on four fronts instead of five. We'll buy the Pashtun loyalty with money, munitions, and Viagra. Yeah, that'll bring peace and stability to the country.

President Obama will continue the Bush administration policy of treating the war on terrorism as just that, a literal war which uses bullets and bombs instead of addressing the root causes of terrorism, poverty, powerlessness and despair. While I thought President Obama's decision to sit down with an Al-Arabiya to make clear that his administration was not anti-Muslim or anti-Arab was a master stroke, his determination to continue the war on Islamic extremists undercuts his proclamation.

Unfortunately, no change is evident here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post, I'd like to point out that Obama now also owns our proxy wars against the Palestinians. I'm just as troubled by this as I am by Iraq and Afghanistan, and I think it may contribute even more to the U.S.'s problems in the region. When Islamic extremists want to strike a blow at Israel, they can dependably be expected to consider the U.S. an equal value target.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Obama & The Dims now own EVERYTHING: the wars, the proxies, the financial crisis, the global climate crisis, the manufacturing crisis, the satimulus crisis, the health crisis, all of it.

Which is why I, for one, am convinced the Pukes threw the election. How ELSE do you explain Palin?

7:02 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Oh, and he wasted no time in staining his "administration/regime's" hands in the blood of innocents, did he?

Izzat the "change we can believe in?"

7:04 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

This is what the critics mean who claim that there is no effective difference between the puke and the dims. They are, in fact, not different [parties at all, but are instead--as Gore Vidal memorably put it--two wings (the Right Wing and the VERY Right Wing) of the same Party, the party of property, and privilege.

7:06 AM  

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