Thursday, April 2, 2009

Just how bad will the Afghanistan-Pakistan war get?

General Petraeus reports Pakistan as being on the verge of collapse:

Less than a week ago, the Obama Administration unveiled a “new, comprehensive strategy” for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which included massive increases in spending as well as adding yet more troops to the ongoing surge in Afghanistan.

Now, days later, top defense officials have informed Congress that the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan is growing worse by the day, and that the brand new strategy is no longer enough. SOCOM head Admiral Eric Olson described the situation as “increasingly dire.” At the same time, foreign military figures in Afghanistan have said they expect the surge to be a “game changer” and to cause a significant spike in militant attacks in that nation.

Beyond that, while acknowledging that Pakistan had “betrayed America’s trust in the past,” General David Petraeus warned that Pakistan’s militants “could literally take down their state” if the US didn’t intervene. Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy added that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Agency “are certainly a problem to be dealt with.” Recently, US officials have accused the ISI of providing direct support for the militants in Afghanistan.

The administration's answer? Potentially, it's 10,000 more US troops:

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is weighing whether to deploy 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are questioning an increased commitment and seeking specific measures of progress against the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

When President Obama took office, the U.S. had about 38,000 troops in Afghanistan. The White House has announced plans to send 21,000 reinforcements in coming months, increasing the tally to almost 60,000.

Mr. Obama will decide this fall whether to order 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan next year, senior Pentagon officials told a Senate panel Wednesday, bringing the total to almost 70,000.

How thin are we now on the ground, with the Iraq withdrawal reeling out more slowly than promised while we double-down in Afghanistan/Pakistan?

We're now sending some units direct from Iraq to Afghanistan without any rotation home:

An Army unit in Iraq has been shifted directly to Afghanistan, marking what defense officials said was the first time such a move has been made between the two war zones.

The 100th Brigade Support Battalion had been serving in Iraq since December, but was “repositioned” to southern Afghanistan at the end of March, officials said.

Meanwhile, like their forefathers who expelled the Greeks and Macedonians under Alexander the Great, the Mughals, the British, and the Soviets, the Pushtan leaders of the Taliban are not going to be coming to the bargaining table any time soon.

Why should they? They think (and our political and military officials have as much as admitted) that they're winning the war:

ABUL: Taliban rejected on Wednesday a US offer of “honourable reconciliation” as a “lunatic idea” and said the withdrawal of foreign troops was the only way to end the war in Afghanistan.

With the Afghan conflict now in its eighth year, the Nato-led forces and the Taliban are locked in a bloody stalemate with violence set to rise further this year as more US troops arrive and seek to contain the insurgency ahead of August elections....

“This matter was also raised in the past,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, referring to comments by Obama last month speaking of reaching out to moderate Taliban. “They have to go and find the moderate Taliban, their leader and speak to them. This is a lunatic idea,” Mujahid said by telephone from an unknown location. The 21,000 extra US troops ordered by Obama to join the 70,000 foreign soldiers now fighting insurgents in Afghanistan showed the United States wanted the war to continue, Mujahid said, and the Taliban would keep fighting till they left. “There is no other way. We want our freedom and respect for our independence,” Mujahid said.

Meanwhile, in Europe, at least French President Sarkozy is not buying the idea of additional NATO troops being sent into the Hindu Kush:

PARIS, April 1 (Reuters) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ruled out sending more troops to Afghanistan, days before a NATO summit in France is due to discuss the alliance's Afghan strategy.

"We will send no other reinforcements," Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio in an interview, confirming previous remarks by Defence Minister Herve Morin.

IF we're going to fight out this war to the bitter end, it's going to be primarily with American troops, because the rest of our NATO allies are growing increasingly unwilling to send their men and women to die in Afghanistan:

The allies are unlikely to offer significant additional combat forces for Afghanistan at the summit. But they are expected to embrace Obama's focus on nonmilitary aspects of stabilizing Afghanistan and to underscore their shared view that Afghanistan cannot be allowed to regress back into an al-Qaida haven.

At some point the American people will have to speak, because our political leadership--both Republican and Democrat--has been strangely neutered on Afghanistan/Pakistan, and seemingly pretty willing to write President Obama the same sort of blank check written to Dubya in Iraq.

You can't expect Bob Gates, Admiral Mullen, or General Petraeus to be change agents here. The military's job is to tell the President what's necessary to win the wars he's decided to fight, not to make the grand strategic policy decisions.

Today take a moment to ask yourself why we're still in Afghanistan/Pakistan. Do we truly believe that the best way to safeguard American lives at home is to deploy up to 70,000 US combat troops while spending uncounted billions of dollars per month on this pestilential hell-hole?

Or--as I have suggested many times--are we merely there to safeguard the construction of oil and natural gas pipelines for the benefit of major international corporations and China, our largest creditor?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You gotta hear Seymour Hirsch on this issue. He says there has been a civil war (religious) war there for 1000 years. We have NO solid intelligence (just like Iraq). He says that Obama is listening to the Pentagon and the Military Industrial Complex, and really has no others telling him why this adventure real create more terrorism not less. A congressman just returned from the area, he agreed. He hopes that several of the Congressman who have spent time there will get a meeting with Obama and get him off this terrible policy. We are still paying out $1 billion a month for Iraq, and the congressman most knowledgeable about the issue, are opposed to the Biden, Clinton,
Rahm Emanuel and the Generals who are killing civilians at the rate of 50 per day. This will be Obamas Viet nam.