Monday, September 14, 2009

On Afghanistan

We’re a little short on time but we wanted to get to a few pieces regarding Afghanistan, particularly in light of the increasing pressure being put on President Obama to declare victory and pull out.

This from Investor’s Business Daily (H/T: Just Politics?):

Let's start with the obvious: A Vietnam-style pullout would send a shock wave around the world, convincing many small-country allies that we are weak and unreliable. Our larger, more significant allies in Europe, Asia and Latin America would likewise look elsewhere for help.

The resulting power vacuum in key hot spots around the world would be filled by a ragged but vicious assortment of Islamic fundamentalists, extreme leftists and kleptocrats.

Afghanistan, as President Obama has said, is a "necessary" war. Indeed, it is his war. He should know, then, that leaving Afghanistan to the not-so-tender mercies of the Taliban would endanger all of Southern Asia and the Mideast. Pakistan and India, both of which have nuclear weapons, could be destabilized.

Iran, meanwhile, would be rewarded by our departure with a new terrorist ally to help plan attacks against the West — and perhaps spread nuclear weapons to terrorists and other rogue states.

And this from the Wall St. Journal on the disturbing trend in this country to hang military engagements exclusively around the neck of the party in executive power:

Our concern is that this tendency for the party out of (executive) power to pull back from America's international role and to undermine a president of the opposing party will gain strength when it comes to President Obama's policy on Afghanistan.

The president deserves credit for his commitment earlier this year to order an additional 17,000 troops for Afghanistan, as well as his decision to act on the recommendation of Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to replace the U.S. commander in Afghanistan with Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

These were tough and courageous decisions. The president's actions have clearly unsettled some members of his own party, who hoped he would begin to unwind America's commitment in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama not only ignored their counsel; he doubled down his commitment. There should therefore be no stronger advocates for Mr. Obama's Afghanistan strategy than the GOP.

Incidentally, the piece is titled Afghanistan is not ‘Obama’s War’ not to insinuate that it was George Bush’s war rather it is our war and includes an admonition that we (on the right) should never do to President Obama what many Democrats did to President Bush. Message received.

We also believe that the President may have to display a little bull-headed obstinance for which his predecessor was so harshly criticized in order to succeed in Afghanistan.

And finally (but not leastly) B-Daddy has some thoughts on the matter:
My real concern would be the dropping support for the war would lead to withdrawal of troops. I think Afghanistan can be won, but we must help the central government put together tribal alliances that will hold and thus isolate the Taliban. Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote "War is the continuation of politics by other means." The question was rhetorical, and he did not fully believe it, but made the point that war and political ends are inextricably linked. In Afghanistan, both are necessary for victory, and the same can be said of Iraq.

B-Daddy admonishes the President to start paying more attention to the situation overseas and expend some political capital there instead of the laser-like focus he has on the debacle that is his (many and varied) healthcare reform plans. We could not agree more.


B-Daddy said...

Dean, thanks for the link. These are indeed perilous times in the Middle East. Afghanistan will probably be a long slog, unfortunately.

Road Dawg said...

"Send a shock wave around the world, convincing many small-country allies that we are weak and unreliable" (BwD)

"Weak" as in: deficient in mental power, intelligence, or judgment: a weak mind.

Or Likely to fail under pressure, stress, or strain; lacking resistance: a weak link in a chain

Or, Lacking persuasiveness; unconvincing: a weak argumen

Or, Lacking firmness of character or strength of will.

Not "Weak" as in: lacking physical strength, energy, or vigor; feeble.

If you notice the definition of "weak" is characterized by so much more than strength.

K T Cat said...

I would suggest that "winning" may end up being defined as "we're willing to stay indefinitely and absorb all the casualties the enemy can dish out in order to support the slow, cultural movement towards a liberal, secular democracy."

If that happens to be 30 years, so be it. It may end up being a generation or more. I don't think anyone can predict winning in any other sense.

Just my $0.02 from very little study or thought.