Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Way Forward in Afghanistan

Sorry, my (most) liberal friends: I support the President's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Yes, I am aware that we have been there for over eight years. Yes, it is true that al-Qaeda is mainly based in Pakistan. Yes, it is also true that Afghanistan has never been (and can never be) a fully functioning democratic nation state. And yes, our "partners", the Afghanistan government run by Karzai, could not possibly be any more corrupt or worthless.

But no, none of that is reason enough to risk a premature withdraw from the region, if for nothing else but for security's sake. I don't care what Michael Moore says. Afghanistan started as a war of necessity, after the attacks on 9/11 by al-Qadea who were based in Afghanistan at the time. It is true that they might be primarily based in Pakistan now, but they continue to launch attacks and have influence in Afghanistan. If we left now, you can bet they would regain control of the already destabilized region before anybody even knew better.

What I think is interesting is the political fall out of the President's approach. For once, in the first time since the Inauguration, the Republicans are actually vocally standing behind the President and supporting him. (Except for the vampire Dick Cheney who apparently operates on an island of his own).

In contrast, it is now the Democrats losing their heads and grumbling about the next election cycle. That is even after Obama threw the left a bone by announcing a withdraw plan for Afghanistan beginning in 2011 (so for accuracy sake, the plan is a temporary surge followed by a timed withdraw). All I have to say to these Dems, is if the President has a plan to start getting us out of the region in 2011 (which will be about the 10 year mark in the war), why not just let him and the generals have the troops they think they need to do it? Honestly, don't pretend like you know more about strategic military decisions than the people at the top of the chain of command. Remember when Cheney accused Obama of "dithering?" The President spent weeks, almost months, on this decision. It was not made lightly. There were debates and deliberations between some of the sharpest minds of these subjects the entire time. There is something in this plan for both sides. A troop increase for Republicans and a timed withdraw for Democrats. So far there has been a lot bigger of a fuss on the left.

It just goes back to the saying that in politics, when you drive down the middle of the road you get hit by traffic on both sides.

In short, I support the troop increase because I think our attention and focus has been negligent in Afghanistan since pretty much the start of the Iraq war and needs to be made up for. I support the timed withdraw, because we should not be occupying Afghanistan, or trying to turn it in to something it can never be (a fully functioning democratic nation state). And hopefully, as the idea goes, the time line will make not only our only military actions more efficient, but make our partners in the Afghanistan government wake up and actually do something.

So for this blogger, another home run for President Obama.

*EDIT* Next day update: Republicans are suddenly turning against the President's plan in waves. Big surprise.

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