THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin


POTUS meets with national security team

The latest news on the long-awaited decision with respect to sending more troops to Afghanistan is—that we are going to wait some more.  So,  while our troops on the ground there continue to hope for the cavalry, the POTUS will be taking off for his Asia trip.  Sometime after his return on November 19th, he will make his decision, perhaps before Thanksgiving, perhaps after, perhaps the first week in December—or not.  After all, this situation is not a huge emergency like, for example, Healthcare Reform.  Right?  It is reported that the White House is “chafed under the criticism” that Mr. Obama is “dragging his feet.”  Well, if his shoes are looking scuffed…

Contrary to what Mr. Obama had previously said about making decisions based on the assessments of his Generals on the ground, he is now resisting that very advice, choosing instead to give preference to the opinion of  U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Eikenberry whose leaked, classified cable voiced a sharp dissent from General McChrystal.

afghanistan flagOur newest “reset” Afghanistan policy seems to be focused on how and when the U.S. and its allies will turn over responsibility to the Afghan government.  The POTUS stated that “U.S. commitment is not open-ended”.  Currently, we seem to be fighting a holding action that is aimed at heading off Taliban insurgents and protecting the population.  The prevailing opinion of the “powers that be” is that “insurgency can be blunted but not defeated by force”.  So it looks like the goal of this War is quickly becoming buying time for the Afghani Army, ill-trained and ill-equipped as they are, to take over from Allied troops.  And, when we are not buying time, we are buying off the enemy so that we can operate under the present, reduced circumstances.  Consider the quote below:

“In this grotesque carnival, the US military’s contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. “It’s a big part of their income,” one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts–hundreds of millions of dollars–consists of payments to insurgents.”
Aram Roston, The Nation

In my opinion, there are several problems with the way the POTUS is handling this decision, not the least of which is that every day that goes by puts our soldiers in Afghanistan at greater risk.  And, do we really want to signal to the enemy that we are not in this War for the long haul?  Mr. Obama may deal with people in this Country that have the patience and attention of a gnat, Islamofacists are not likewise afflicted.  Furthermore, for someone who was hailed to be a “the most intelligent president in our lifetime”, Mr. Obama seems to be unable to either articulate the real goal of this War, nor how to achieve it.

In an earlier post I included a link to a cogent argument for why total victory in this War is essential.  If you read it, then you already know that the critical issue is that the Taliban cannot re-take Afghanistan in order to have a safe haven from which to launch more and deeper attacks into Pakistan, thus de-stabilizing that nuclear nation.  If we are worried about Iran having nuclear weapons, how much scarier is it to have them in the hands of the Taliban?

Finally, consider this quote from a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant that was e-mailed to Jamie M. Fly at “The Corner” blog on NRO:

“Our service members are dying and the president is dithering. I have been in the military while a president dithered or failed to make a tough decision, it is eviscerating, and a rot settles in. “Commander in Chief” is not just a fancy title. The president is the ultimate officer and like any poor officer his failure to make tough decisions is seen as a weakness by his NCOs and men. Morale, that most fragile base of any good military unit suffers immediately. When our officers are fearful and indecisive, we become fearful and indecisive.

NCOs find reasons not to patrol or to avoid high-risk areas, Convoys are diverted to avoid possible confrontation, our allies desert us and the advantage is ceded to the enemy.

And this happen quickly, weeks are all that’s left to keep the advantage in Afghanistan. After a certain point in time “mission weariness” begins to settle in and the edge is lost on our weapon and almost impossible to regain. Quite frankly I fear that the time to make a difference is quickly slipping away and even if he eventually approves the fully levy of Gen McChrystal’s request the momentum may have been permanently lost”.

In short, where is a “Decider” when we need one?

Filed under: INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE, national defense, POTUS, , , ,

2 Responses

  1. lhurley13 says:

    You have very well reasoned and researched points that moves this discussion to a deeper level. I can only hope that as the decision on Afghanistan moves forward (?) that the broader issue that you have described could be simultaneously addressed. However, I fear that the U.S. is sorely lacking in the type of diplomacy that it would take to effect the sort of necessary change that you describe.
    I recommend that all of you visit Scott’s blog at the link above and digest what he written there. Thank you for the comment. I will add your blog to my list. LWH

  2. Scott says:

    Unless we develop a comprehensive South Asia strategy, the most we can hope for is a temporary peace in Afghanistan.

    What would such a strategy look like? Well, at the very least it requires some moderation of the strategic competition between India and Pakistan.

    Without attention to this aspect of the problem, we really are only playing around at the edges of the conflict.

    For more, see

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