Monday, October 5, 2009

The Afghanistan Dilemma

Afghanistan has proven difficult for so many before us, the last being the Russians. Ironically, in our own inimitable style we aided the Taliban in its fight against the Russians, only to have to fight our former "ally" later. How many times in our past have we supported, equipped and trained the bad guys?

When Bush entered that country in October, 2001, the objective was to destroy Al Qaeda and its training network there and to destroy its Taliban ally. Unfortunately, the President got his priorities mixed up and entered into his poorly planned, conducted and unnecessary invasion of Iraq. Iraq became the priority and Afghanistan and Bin Laden became a nuisance with little being done to pursue the objectives.

Like Nixon in 1968, Obama has inherited a poorly conducted and deteriorating action that threatens to drag him down. Operation Enduring Freedom, as it was initially known, is becoming unpopular as the American body count continues to grow. Conveniently, it is becoming unpopular among Republicans, who will use anything to discredit the President, no matter that it was their man who made the mess. Gleefully, for them, Obama is in a "damned if does, damned if he doesn't" situation.

Rightly so, I believe, the President has taken a step back to re-evaluate the situation in Afghanistan. His commander there has said that success will require a large infusion of troops to stabilize the situation. Whether the President is willing to undertake that route remains to be seen. It will take a clear plan of action with specific goals to make such an action successful. It is very difficult to defeat an enemy in its homeland. Vietnam comes to mind. The minds of the people have to be won before success is possible.

The danger of continuing a wide war of occupation in that country lies in the number of soldiers needed for possible success. The terrain is difficult and the surrounding countries uncooperative. Then there is that history. The Russians could not do it. The British failed miserably with eight divisions in their last Afghan War in 1919 and they had air power and armor.

It is incumbent upon the President to pursue the efforts to destroy Al Quaeda and abandon any Bush-like attempt at nation building. Afghanistan has never been captured, and I do not expect that the U.S. war will be an exception. As in Iraq, it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to do their part to throw off the religious zealots in the Taliban. If Al Quaeda and Bin Laden are destroyed that potential thorn in the side of the world will be neutralized. That is all that we need from our efforts in Afghanistan, nothing more, nothing less.

1 comment:

Diane J Standiford said...

Agreed. We have eaten enough dust over there. Bin Laden is gone, we lost our chances of capturing him. We need to move on.