Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obama's Afghanistan Debate

America's involvement in the war in Afghanistan has been much in the news this summer. August has proven to be the deadliest month so far for the U.S. soldiers. And, support here at home is tanking.

Americans are war weary. And, Afghanistan is a different kind of place that most Americans cannot relate to. Basically, it is a country still in the Bronze Age in most places. It is a nation organized and ruled in a tribal approach. It is not just cultural issues that are prevalent, it is the tribal aspect that Americans are unfamiliar with in dealing with enemies.

General Stanley McChrystal, the commander in Kabul, has completed an evaluation requested by the President and he recommends a broader approach - which means more troops. He hasn't technically made the request, due to pressure from those not in agreement, but he is said to be laying the groundwork for such a request.

Some argue for a reduced force and different strategy - VP Joe Biden, who has a track record of being on the wrong side of history in foreign conflicts - wants a more limited, counterterrorism approach, according to an article in This is essentially what we are already doing, which isn't working. So, it would be typical Biden. According to the article, McChrystal's strategy of counterinsurgency would have the mission of protecting people by persuading the population, not destroying the enemy.

President Obama has referred to the war in Afghanistan as "the good war". He used it as an example of a noble venture for our country, as opposed to how he has consistently trash talked the war in Iraq - going so far as to proudly run for President as the anti-war candidate. It is who he is. And now he is flipping a coin to decide how he will pursue this war.

The Obama administration no longer allows the term "war on terror" to be used. Recently Press Secretary Robert Gibbs slipped in a briefing and used the term to justify Obama's policy grab when it came to legislation to allow the President to take control over the Internet during anything the White House deems a national emergency. The very policies put into effect by the Bush administration that team Obama bashed for the past eight years is now justification for them to pursue their own power grabs.

Last Spring President Obama announced the implementation of his "new policy" in Afghanistan. Whatever that strategy was, it has proven to be unsuccessful. Truth is, things have gotten worse. Team Obama is resorting to the favored default position, that they "inherited" this war and it was mishandled previously.

With his favorable rating plunging in the polls, perhaps President Obama will step up and begin to appear to lead, not just play defense to the previous administration.

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