he came into office. In March, Obama thought increasing the number of soldiers in
Afghanistan would allow NATO to drive the Taliban out of the Southern and Western
sections. Combine those forces with renewed efforts against the Taliban in Pakistan and
perhaps the Afghans can rule themselves. Unfortunately, eight years of Bush incompetence
gave the Taliban time to regroup. Mullah Omar is said to have developed a more sophisticated
and adaptive strategy involving all of Afghanistan.
Bush had a chance to kill both Omar and bin Laden in 2002 in the caves of
Tora Bora. But, both escaped because Bush allowed Afghan nationals to pursue them
instead of using American forces. Bush, focused on Iraq, failed with dire consequences
to eliminate both Omar and bin Laden. Omar went on to install shadow governments
in Afghan provinces including governors and Sharia courts; and who knows what mischief
bin Laden has been up to? Add to this a seriously corrupt government under Hamid Karzai
and an election which appears to have been rigged and the question of whether the Afghans
can rule themselves is still yet to be answered.
Americans don't want to escalate this war. Progressives want to know what
victory will look like. Democrats want a serious debate over what strategy to use and
it's chances for success; but maddeningly neither will brave a commitment on telling the
American people what "success" will look like or what U.S. end goals are.
Regressives and Republicans are calling on the President to send more troops
now. Senator John Kyl of Arizona says every day the President waits makes it harder
to achieve victory. Newt Gingrich, Condoleezza Rice, Cheney, Boehner and most Republican
leaders are pressuring the President to act now. They want him to send 40,000-60,000
more troops. If he doesn't, they say the Taliban will retake the nation. Al Qaeda will once
again have a staging area for their operations and Americans will be attacked again. They
are very clear on what failure means; but, once again, no one has offered the American
people or the world a clear vision of where the U.S. is going with its war efforts or how
we will know when we arrive at our destination.
When I watch these foreign policy experts on the Regressive side appear on
television or radio, no one ever challenges them about how they can have any credibility
left after the disaster that is Iraq. Kristol, Barnes, Hanbaugh, Krauthammer, et. al. were
absolutely sure there were weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was going to
give a nuclear weapon to terrorists and the people of Iraq were going to welcome us as
liberators. How does a news show invite them on as experts when they were so wrong,
so badly wrong that it resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths? They said we had to
attack Iraq now. They said we couldn't wait. They predicted victory even if they couldn't
define it. Anyone who counseled delay or patience was a lover of terrorists, someone who
didn't love their country, or intellectual bumpkins not sophisticated enough to understand
the international ramifications if Iraq wasn't invaded now.
Here we go again. The same crowd of PNACers and Regressives and neo-cons
want the President to escalate the war in Afghanistan now. We will fail if he doesn't act.
America will be destroyed if more of our young men and women don't get sacrificed in
Afghanistan. If we don't up the ante, we will see that mushroom cloud in Manhattan.
They were able to frighten enough people (shamelessly playing on September 11th) and
stampede enough spineless Democrats to get their invasion of Iraq and we know how that
turned out. Can they do it again?
Is Afghanistan governable by it's own people? Will Afghanis fight the Taliban
to defend their central government? Is Afghanistan a country with a national identity
(like Japan or Germany) or rather is it a patchwork of tribal alliances and allegiances?
Can outsiders truly help the people or will they be resented? Can the Taliban play on
the prejudices against foreigners even as more Americans pour into the nation killing
more innocent Afghans? As long as the Taliban and al Qaeda have a safe haven in Pakistan,
can anyone defeat them? Would we be better off arming the warlords, bribing them, and
having their militias fight the Taliban? Would it be better to pull all Americans out
leaving a counter-terrorism force to deal with al Qaeda? What can be done about Pakistan?
Can anyone define what success in Afghanistan looks like? If we commit more troops,
how long will they stay? How much will it cost? Where will the money come from?
Will the American people support a "war tax" (as in Vietnam)? Can the American military
sustain another war with 100,000 troops still in Iraq and a military which has been badly
broken by the Iraq disaster?
There are more questions yet to be asked and answered. The reason some want
to rush to action is because they have no answers. They know a vigorous debate will reveal
the bankruptcy and vapid nature of their positions. We need a debate. We need Obama
to answer these questions. We need to know what success looks like, not just hear from
the Cassandras of failure.
We blew this in 2003. we didn't fight the lies and we didn't demand answers.
Will we do it again? What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals.
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org