Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama and Afghanistan

Obama skims over some Afghan realities

FACT CHECK[S]: from the Associated Press article:
The problem with Afghan forces is not just their lack of numbers. And it's not an unwillingness to fight. The problem too often is their effectiveness, once trained for combat. Too many get into the fight but don't remain or don't perform.

Obama's confidence skirts years of mostly empty-handed American efforts to get others, including allies in NATO, to deepen their commitment to combat in Afghanistan.

It's true the Pakistani army this year has launched offensives against extremist elements in the areas cited by Obama. What he did not mention, however, is that the groups being targeted by the Pakistanis are those that threaten the Pakistani government--not those, also based in Pakistan, that are focused on attacking U.S. and Afghan forces on the other side of the porous border.

Click to read the whole thing. Worth your time.


Depending on the Afghans

The Main Question: Can Afghanistan and the Afghans be compared to Iraq and the Iraqis? Will the Afghans be able to be trained to field and army and a quasi-dependable police force? Iraq's are still being shored up by U.S. troops.

Iraq was once a coherent whole, able to feild an army and a police force.

Afghanistan appears to be incoherent as far as its population and more difficult than Iraq as far as its tribal structure is concerned.

The U.S. Generals

There are Generals and then there are Generals. It took Lincoln a while--dithering about with General after General, until he found those who could get the job done. (Include Sherman in the last-mentioned category, but not McClellan.)

I am not casting aspersions at any present General or Generals. But as the old saw goes, "The proof's in the pudding." So, with the rest of us, I'll just sit back* to wait and see. Not that I want to see the proposed policies in Afghanistan fail. After all, I am in the same Lifeboat as the rest of us and the captain--ah well--the Captain of that leaking vessel, does he know what he's doing?

For another view on Obama and Afghanistan, see Assessing the Afghan Surge - Dr. Kimberly Kagan's interview with the Council on Foreign Relations
To read the full Council on Foreign relations opinions article, visit

As an aside, the Obama speech at West point was more about himself than about the men who would be risking their lives in war. See how many "I"s he was able to insert in this speech at:
*not comfortably, because U.S. Marines, soldiers, and sailors are getting killed and maimed. But then so were men getting killed in the Civil War, until General Sherman found a way to end it by waging Total War, which is the only way to achieve victory.

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