Monday :: Aug 31, 2009

Afghanistan: Top US Commander Wants New Strategy, Hints At More Troops


by Turkana

Well, anyone paying attention saw this coming. From the BBC:

A top US general in Afghanistan has called for a revised military strategy, suggesting the current one is failing.

That would be Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commands both international and U.S. forces, in Afghanistan. And, of course, Gen. McChrystal says we still can be successful in Afghanistan. Which once again raises the question of what success means. The report singles out protecting the Afghan people from the Taliban. Which raises the question of how we are to protect the Afghan people from the Taliban when so many of them embrace the Taliban. The report itself admits the small problem that the Afghan people lack confidence in the war, because it hasn't made their lives better. Surprise! Copies of the report have been sent to Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Defense Secretary Gates.

Gen McChrystal says the aim should be for Afghan forces to take the lead but their army will not be ready to do that for three years and it will take much longer for the police.

In case you were wondering about an end date...

In the mean time, August was the deadliest month yet for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, in what already was the allies' deadliest year in Afghanistan. And in case you were wondering, that record that was broken in August was set just one month before. Which makes for a trend. Of increasing troop deaths. Increasing record-breaking troop deaths.

The BBC report says President Obama has sent in 30,000 more U.S. troops, since May, and that there are now 100,000 allied troops in country. That 30,000 is nearly double what the escalation initially was reported to be. And things still aren't getting better. Get it? Because someone apparently doesn't.

This report does not mention increasing troop numbers - that is for another report later in the year - but the hints are all there, our correspondent says.

The BBC says President Obama is going to have to weigh the implications of again ramping up the war even as polls show the public increasingly wants it over. Juan Cole addressed that, just a week ago:

I think support for the Afghanistan war depends on the administration effectively tying it to concerns about Americans' safety and security. And since that argument is so hard to make convincingly, I can't see how public support for the war is going to come back. With dozens of U.S. troops killed in July, moreover, people are hearing more bad news than good.

What I think is true is that a poorly executed Afghanistan policy could turn Obama into a one-term president. It is too early to judge exactly what Obama's policy will be in Afghanistan, but it should become clear within a few months. So far, Obama has not made the case and hasn't explained what the end game is.

That would be a good place to start. Or to realize that it's time to start planning the end. Because getting out of a war that Bush long ago lost, and that has no clear aim, in the country where empires go to die, would seem to be the only obvious answer. For the president, for the country, and for Afghanistan.

Turkana :: 5:40 AM :: Comments (34) :: Digg It!