Sunday, January 18, 2009

Afghanistan: A lost cause

The incoming Obama administration will be making a grievous mistake if it goes ahead with its plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan by shipping more troops there.

We were fully justified to invade Afghanistan in 2001. The 9/11 attacks on the U.S. were launched from Afghanistan by the Arab-led Al-Qaeda terrorist organization, for whom the local Taliban radical Islamic government had provided a base. Our goal was to destroy Al-Qaeda, capture its leader, Osama bin-Laden, and topple the Taliban regime.

The U.S. was on the verge of achieving these objectives until the Bush administration unwisely invaded Iraq two years later, deploying resources away from Afghanistan. The military focus shifted from fighting a war against an enemy that had attacked the U.S. to invading another country that had posed no threat to our national security.

Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. The pro-American Karzai regime, which we had installed, has proven to be so corrupt that public confidence has collapsed. Moreover, resentment of foreign military forces has grown as U.S. air strikes have caused heavy civilian casualties.

The Taliban has thus regained much of its power and influence while Al-Qaeda has shifted its major bases to the ungovernable tribal areas in neighboring Pakistan's Northwest Province.

The Obama administration now faces the problem of battling Al-Qaeda in Pakistan. That country has a new, presumably pro-American government that is increasingly under pressure from radical Islamic forces that are sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and eager to install a Taliban-like regime in Pakistan.

The much touted "surge" of American forces did strengthen our position in Iraq, at least for the short term. But sending more troops to Afghanistan is unlikely to help the fight against Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

This is a situation that could probably be handled more effectively with covert counter-insurgency operations, combined with delicate diplomatic moves, rather than with conventional military action.

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Blogger Sylvia K said...

I do agree with you and I also know that I wouldn't want to be in Obama's shoes, but I do hope he has advisosrs that can and do see the dangers in escalating the war in Afghanistan. Our military has been stretched too far as it is.
Good to see your post today, Mort.

Sunday, January 18, 2009 6:30:00 PM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

I agree, Mort. It's not a good idea. I think we need to get out of Iraq before we think about sending anymore troops anywhere.

I also think we need to help get the mess in Gaza settled -- not with troops, of course but by trying to get a cease fire so that the dying stops there, too.

Our country needs to be a leader in peace -- not in war.

Sunday, January 18, 2009 7:57:00 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

I, too, agree with you, Mort. All along I've thought that the covert route was the best route. I love your term "covert counter-insurgency operations, combined with delicate diplomatic moves..." This post should be mailed to the White House to go in Obama's, Clinton's, and others' in-boxes for the first week of business!

Monday, January 19, 2009 5:09:00 AM  
Blogger Florence said...

Thank you for putting into words exactly what I think. The Bush administration could hardly have created a bigger mess than if they had set out to do so but that would be giving them credit for some foresight which they are most certainly not known for possessing. I hope the incoming administration will steadily pull troops out of both areas.

Monday, January 19, 2009 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Your analysis makes good sense and I wish Obama would heed it.

The last I heard, Obama was proposing sending more troops to this country that will never be tamed. More young men, women and Afghans will die before the administration is forced, like Russia, to pull out.

Monday, January 19, 2009 3:34:00 PM  
Blogger Rabbi Ruth Adar said...

I agree, Mort, for the reasons you cited and for another one as well: Afghanistan has proven to be a tar pit for great powers before. Ronald Reagan gets a lot of credit for the fall of the Soviet Union, but personally I believe that it was entanglement in Afghanistan that did in the USSR. It is a black hole for resources and soldier-power, and it has been that since the Middle Ages.

The invasion in 2001 was justified and necessary. It is to the shame of the Bush Administration that that mission was left unfinished. We desperately need to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan as quickly as we can decently exit, because our very presence does more harm than good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 2:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wise advice...we can hardly afford to be overextended, Afghanistan is the Bermuda Triangle of ground forces, and as you say, Al-Qaeda has already moved on to Pakistan, no doubt anticipating our stated plans to increase forces in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, I think there is some value in maintaining a force of some magnitude in Afghanistan, IF we can energize the Pakistani military and government to their part of the job on their side of the border. That's a big if, I admit.

Monday, January 26, 2009 7:37:00 PM  
Blogger Dorothy said...

I'm watching and praying he continues to listen to his critics and make decisions carefully. What have we gained from Iraq and more important has anything really improved. Great article I learn something every time I visit here...

Dorothy from grammology

Tuesday, February 03, 2009 10:50:00 PM  
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