01 December 2009

The Afghanistan decision

I'm going to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one.

The big speech is later today, but most analysts seem to expect an increase in the number of troops, some changes in strategy, and a renewed commitment to actually win, not just fight to a standstill. Many of Obama's supporters are very unhappy about this. I have not seen anyone propose a specific alternative plan which would have a better chance of achieving the desired results. (Persuading ourselves that things would be OK if the Taliban regained control doesn't qualify. Reality doesn't go away just because we decide it's too hard to deal with and convince ourselves it's not real.)

In marked contrast to Bush, who made important decisions based on gut feeling and notoriously ignored experts, Obama has not only listened to his advisers, but has held meeting after meeting, demanding more and more information. He's done the hard work of understanding Afghanistan's complexities, rather than doing the lazy thing and declaring it an incomprehensible quagmire. He has, at least, the most thorough and accurate picture of the real situation on the ground that's humanly possible.

I doubt that whatever option he's chosen is what most of us would describe as "good". There aren't really any good options. But there are options which are less bad than others.

The administration's more intelligent approach is already bearing fruit. Part of the reason the Taliban have been so difficult to defeat is that they can retreat to the "tribal areas" of Pakistan, near the Afghan border, which have for years been under Taliban rule rather than that of the Pakistani government. Recently Pakistan finally launched a serious military effort to reassert control over one of those areas, South Waziristan, and has had considerable success; the subsequent wave of terrorist attacks throughout Pakistan suggests that the Taliban feel seriously threatened by the move. While the government's lunge into South Waziristan was partly in response to Taliban efforts to expand their rule into more of Pakistan, I suspect that pressure from the US also played a role. We'll find out when we see whether the campaign moves beyond South Waziristan into other tribal areas. If it does, the Taliban in Afghanistan will lose an important advantage.

Afghanistan is one of the toughest problems facing Obama. If his approach fails, there will be plenty of time to criticize then. He deserves the chance to succeed.


Anonymous Leslie Parsley said...

I voted no just to be heard, but - realizing I might sound terribly hypocritical - I've been having some of the same thoughts as you. I've also been listening to the commentary (always have NPR in the background), so may remove my most recent post. This is a tough one and bears a lot of serious consideration. Your points - Obama's listening to all views, changees in strategy, a renewed committment to win and not just languish, etc. - are all vaild points.

Now I know why you are an "Infidel." Not a bad thing.

01 December, 2009 09:43  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Note -- there seems to be a glitch with moderation. I approve comments but they don't appear. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.

01 December, 2009 09:44  
Blogger Karen said...

Don't know... have mixed feelings about Afghanistan but I want to hear Prez O's speech before any further emotion on my part.

01 December, 2009 09:47  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

I understand the way the critics feel about this, but I think it's important to keep an open mind and allow for different points of view.

Thanks for commenting.

01 December, 2009 10:54  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

I'm against any surge, even before the speech tonight, although I am open to persuasion, I can't imagine what Obama might say to make me change my mind. There are currently over 100,000 NATO/US troops, 90,000 in the Afghani Army plus Pakistan pushing in the east, that should be more than enough for an estimated 25,000 Taliban.

01 December, 2009 11:49  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Obama is on the spot,he's f'd if he does and f'd if he dont,either way the outcome wont be pretty in American's eye's,especially during election's.If he dont send support for our existing troop's he is evil,if he send's more and our casualties go up he is evil.I wrote way too much about this war,and am sure you already know my solution,not because I am frightened or think we cant win,I posted plenty about term's of engagement and what our troop's are up against,and occupation, etc,etc. Also both Pakistan and Afghanistan said in the long run both are willing to have Taliban in their government,now I know some may say ...well ... their "good" Taliban and NOT "bad" Taliban, and perhap's those who say that are right...I am certainly not an expert, but the NSM (National Socialist Movement/Neo Nazi Party) in the USA for instance are moderate Neo Nazi's ... should they also be Senator's and Congressmen? Perhap's their ideology is more fashionable or pleasant,heh? Other than that ...I wont turn on Obama regardless of what he does on this, because not a goddamn bit of this is his fault to begin with, and as I have posted recently ...I realize that this delay he had to research this, cant last long because of the "power's" that control Washington, and certainly Russia want's their future petro pipeline's to be safe from sabotage...you reckon? I have nothing else on this garbage(not your posting, but this inbred ingrate trash abroad) or these ragheaded piece's of shit worldwide pulling us into this rubbish,as I've posted time and again,if and when this does ever get cleared up,they will work out of another country or it's affiliate's,we are fighting a network that is multi regional who's objective is to milk us and wear us down, they have all the time in the world.I know how to win a war ...by actually fighting, and terminating the threat. Not by revising rulebook's for our troop's then having them investigated every time they bitch slap one of these ingrate's.

Thank You Sir ....

01 December, 2009 14:13  

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