Sunday, October 11, 2009

Playing Rush-in' Roulette

Guess what? Things in Afghanistan are worse than the President thought when

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

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