Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The LuLac Edition #1025, Dec. 1st, 2009



Here’s what I like about the Obama Foreign policy move on Afghanistan. The President has given full consideration and study to the issue. I have a feeling that his foreign policy style is incremental. The first step is trying to engage the other countries opposing us in dialogue. While this is not sexy, it is deliberate. It also gives the President as a leader an opportunity to take the measure of the other nation’s leader. If the President follows up this dialogue with what he last week termed as “consequences”, then we can be assured he has a step 2 in mind after conversational engagement. I particularly like the resistance by him to a rush to judgment. I also like the fact that the President has resisted a timetable on an exit strategy. Plus his nuanced plan to fight the war in dissimilar ways than his predecessors is comforting. That said, here’s my concerns for the Afghanistan involvement.
THE MOMENT MIGHT BE GONE: During the 2004 Presidential election John Kerry referred to the Iraq War as “the wrong war at the wrong time”. I fear that in 2009 this might be the case with Afghanistan. There is a presence of terrorists but not as large as they are in neighboring Pakistan. We might be on the same futile hunt for terrorists that the Bush administration engaged in for those weapons of mass destruction.
TROOP STRENGTH: I agree with Governor Rendell’s assessment that “the troops are exhausted”. While this is a volunteer army, they have been stretched to the max with multiple deployments. In Vietnam soldiers had one tour of duty and then did not return again 7unless they volunteered again. Not so here. Tired and inexperienced troops are not an ingredient to success.
TROOP LEVEL: The Generals say they need about 40,000, the President is sending less than that. I would send more than the generals recommended if possible. We’ve had a history of fighting wars underfunded and understaffed. Generally we lose with that equation. If you can’t go big, go home.
PUBLIC SUPPORT: We are a war weary nation. But the worst part about the weariness is that the burden is being shouldered by a minority of committed military families. There is no national sacrifice to fight. We have no mission, no skin in the game if you will. Vietnam had its ferocious critics. Some say that was a bad morale booster to the troops. What would even be more catastrophic would be national indifference. Let’s face it, “Dancing With the Stars” is way more important to a majority of Americans than where the troops go, pretty bumper ribbons on almost every family car notwithstanding.
THE LESSONS OF HISTORY: Previous nations have tried to win a war in Afghanistan and failed miserably. The Soviet Union’s economic resources were so drained by their effort, that as a nation it went out of business by the end of the 80s. It can happen to us. Plus we have in the form of the current Afghan government a third party not worthy of our sacrifice and effort. In the past we’ve tried to prop up inferior governments. Vietnam and Korea come to mind. After we leave and our blood is spilled, those governments fall under their own corruption and incompetence. In WWII the greatest generation fought for freedom. Despite what anyone says, that was the last time troops fought for the concrete concept of “freedom”. The British were prepared to die rather than give up to the Germans. There is no such consensus now from those we are looking to help. That sense of unity and partnership is vital and I don’t see it.
POLITICS: President Obama’s own party, many who preferred him over Hillary Clinton are opposed to this effort. Mostly Republicans will oppose it as a matter of expediency. The President will have no political cover like Bush 41 had by skillful coalition building. The lessons of the Johnson Presidency’s foreign policy should be thrust on the this President.
Those are my concerns. I’ll watch tonight and wish this effort the very best. But I’m not optimistic about a good outcome.


At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Your Friend and political sparing partner said...

This all seems much too much like President Johnson.
We need to get out NOW! While President Obama is being slow and deliberate Americans are dying for NO reason.
Actually it is up to the Congress to act as they did in the mid 70's. Cut the *&)Ting purse strings.

At 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good points all, David. I too am not optimistic. The sad lesson of Vietnam is that we seem not to have learned any lessons. I was in High School when Johnson said he wouldnt send American boys 10,000 miles from home to fight an Asian War. Five years later I was there!
This action rings a similiar bell.
I fear no good will come of this at all. I hope I'm wrong.

Pete Cassidy

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tonights speech should be delivered from Arlington National Cemetery not West Point!
When will we ever learn?

At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

they can think it through with all deliberation but if they come to the wrong conclusion. so what? i agree with the first comment, this is lbj with jfk's best and brightest. the problem with .academics is they dont have the experince to apply their knowledge

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, I have friends who were marines during Nam and tthey did do more than one tour and sure as hell did not volunteer. We need to get out and get out now! The only thing I agree with you on is that this was will bury us financially. Don't we listen to our enemies? They said they will beat us and this is exactly what they had in mind. We need to end this right now and not a day later than right now! But not to worry, a few more billion and Blackwater and company will do the fighting for us until one day we wake up and find that Erik Prince rules the good ole US of A.

At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how is this any diffeerent from w's iraq surge. if i remember correctly isnt it the same number of troops? it was like o was channelin w and no one was paying attention

At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its OBama's war now.

At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very true, he bought it.

At 11:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The key to real victory in Afghanistan is dragging it out of the 16th century and building a modern nation that rejects terrorism. This requires a credible Afghan security force, a credible Afghan government, and a huge influx of foreign investment. It's vastly more expensive than any military option. There is no political will in the US or among its allies for that type of nation building.

The key to any military victory in Afhanistan lies with Pakistan. We could put 500,000 troops in Afghanistan, and all the Taliban and remnants of Al Qaeda need do is wait across the border until we start drawing down forces. At that point, they will simply return once again to Afghan soil.

We're not going to invade Pakistan. It is not an option. This puts the ball in Pakistan's court. But Pakistan has not shown the will to resolve this cancer. Until they do, any military effort we make in Afghanistan will have limited effectiveness.

Any increase in US forces in Afhanistan should be accompanied by intense pressure on Pakistan to engage the Taliban and terrorists near the Afghan border, perhaps even through joint operations with US forces.

Unless Pakistan ceases to be a haven for terrorists, we risk an exercise in futility.

James O'Meara, Sr.


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