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Beavah

Afghanistan

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Does he fill General McChrystal's request for troops, or does he let Osama and the Taliban win?

 

Yah, I reckon da decision to send our young people into harm's way is the toughest decision any president has to make, eh?

 

I think it's a shame that our forces in Afghanistan were so under-supported and overstretched for the past 6 years that the situation on the ground has deteriorated so badly. I know I'm old fashioned, especially in these days of "neocons", but I still believe that war is a last resort... and that when yeh hit that last resort, and we're puttin' our kids on the line, we give 'em every resource and support they need to achieve total victory. And then bring 'em home, and support the vets with everything they need and deserve to recover from da horror that all war is.

 

All that havin' been said, I'm a realist, eh? I don't think there is such a thing as "victory" in Afghanistan. The Taliban aren't the Germans. There's no central government, no army. They're just a bunch of mountain tribes that share some tom-fool feudal Islamic beliefs. Yeh can't fight beliefs with guns.

 

Da Afghan central "government" exists in Kabul. Sort of. There are no real roads in Afghanistan, no real communications. And the place is big. Imagine a small, corrupt, mayor-Daley government in Chicago with no roads between Chicago and the Rocky Mountains. There aren't enough people in Chicago to police the Rocky Mountains even if they could get there.

 

What does victory even look like?

 

To bring da authority of the Afghan central government to the tribal mountains, yeh need to build a road infrastructure equal to buildin' all of the roads in the U.S. between Chicago, New Orleans, and the Rocky Mountains. And then yeh need about 100 years of economic and social development to break down tribal beliefs.

 

But are we really ready to pour a couple trillion dollars of development money into Afghanistan to achieve that victory? Especially when da country has no significant resources besides opium poppies, and is completely land-locked so yeh can't develop exports well at all ... at least not without another trillion in building rail lines through other hostile countries.

 

What's the alternative? If da central Afghan government can't control da tribal areas, our men and women are deployed in the mountains to keep up a low-grade war of attrition for the next 100 years? We nuke all da tribal areas until the mountains of the Afghan - Pakistani border are uninhabitable?

 

It's a choice I wouldn't wish on anybody. No defined enemy. No defined friend. No defined victory point, and anything short of that completely undefined victory point is goin' to be viewed as "letting the Taliban win."

 

We simply can't afford the cost of nation-building in a remote desert steppe backwater. And I don't think yeh put our kids in harms way if yeh can't afford to support 'em to victory.

 

So I think we've got to let go of this "letting the Taliban win" notion. We can support a temporary, well-supported "surge", but only if there's a point where we declare victory and exit. And that point can't be when there's a stable Afghanistan free of tribal Islamists, or our great-great-grandkids will still be dyin' on the slopes of foreign mountains.

 

Anybody seein' this differently? What am I missing? Right now, it sure looks like we're tryin' to duplicate da Soviet experience in Afghanistan... and they had quite a few more troops on the ground than McCrystal is proposin'.

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I agree. The "goal" in Afghanistan, whatever that is, is not worth one more American life. It's clear that democracy is not valued nor desired by all people and we should quit trying to force our values down their throats. But let us be clear...if there is ONE hostile action against Americans or any other sovereign nation minding their own business, our retaliation will be swift, sure and overwhelming force against them and those supplying them.

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My nephew just deployed a couple of weeks ago, so I have an even more vested interest than when I was merely a concerned citizen.

 

As opposed to Bush's war of choice in Iraq, I fully supported our original efforts in Afghanistan......but I'm not even sure what the "mission" is anymore. For me, the death of Osama bin Laden and his underlings by the hands of American special forces will satisfy me. That being said, a single soldier's death to build a friendly democtratic Afghanistan is one death too many. Get the job done and come home or come home and change tactics to target those responsible for 9/11 and kill them.

 

Love each other or hate each other, we need oil and they need to sell it. We will find a way to get along at arm's length like we always have.

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I remember the emails, a decade ago, of the things the Taliban did to women.

 

I remember the emails, a decade ago, of life in the 'stans... period.

 

What frustrates me is the man doesn't seem to think through his promises very well. He, as the Candidate, chose Afghanistan over Iraq as "the good war" ... not realizing that no war is good ... they're all messy and victory is never a done deal until the surrender.

 

Truth be told, the kind of pumping in the force basis should have been set in time for the national elections.

 

I guess I shouldn't be complaining. From where I sit, O is doing a fine job of becoming Jimmy Carter. The Administrations' concept of "Surgical Strikes" sounds just like Desert One

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I thought are goal was to aprehend or kill the leadership of Al-Qaeda and remove its ability to wage terror. A tactic to achieve that goal was to remove the Taliban from power make Afganistan a country that did not harbor Al-Qaeda and its ilk.

 

The target is Al-Qaeda. If we need to stay in Afganistan to stop them, we should. If we can target Al-Qaeda without the large scale fit in Afganistan, we should do that.

 

I do find it a bit perplexing that Obama seems so quickly to be turning his back on McChrystal. He only put him in place a few months ago and did so claiming he was the right man to deliver on a new strategy needed for victory. Guess he's just another General to get thrown under the bus.

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I guess I missed the part where Obama refused to send more troops. The request hasn't been received yet and SecDef Gates has said he will not send it to Obama until they finish a discussion of strategy based on previous McChrystal's report of the situation.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090923/pl_afp/usafghanistannatounrestmilitary_20090923190856

 

To suggest that Obama is throwing McChrystal under the bus is premature.

 

I wish that LBJ had taken a little more time to consider a strategy and the wisdom of General Westmoreland's troop requests. There's a black wall in Washington that might be a whole lot shorter if he had.

 

Hal

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The comment "Being thrown under the bus" wasnt referring to denying a troop request (that hasnt formerly been made yet) but in Obama publicly questioning the wisdom of the counter-insurgency startegy the Whitehouse approved of in March and resulted in McChrystal being put in place to develop and implement a few months later (replacing McKiernan)

 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/sep/23/pentagon-request-more-troops-afghanistan/(This message has been edited by erickelly65)(This message has been edited by erickelly65)

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If you do not think Mr Obama, Mr Gates and General McChrystal have not talked about a gross number of people and a pretty good idea of the type and number of commands needed, I have some land to sell you in the Bermuda Triangle.

 

Just because the formal request is classified something above "eyes only to God" does not mean the key players don't know the bottom line.

 

Changing strategy every six months reeks of Viet Nam micromanagement by the DC Rear Echelon (those who have been around might remember a 4 letter word starting with RE... but it's not for polite society). I can't wait to see how things shake out this round.(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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Gern, they don't have much oil......but they are in a strategically geographic location for a long proposed but unbuilt oil pipeline. What is needed is a western friendly stable government in power there. Look it up.

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First some perspective. I'm going to temper Beavah's comparison a little although I tend to agree with his basic premise. According to the CIA data, Afghanistan is slightly smaller than Texas. It is a big place but not quite as vast as the picture he painted. That said, I tend to agree that we probably will not devote the resources that would be necessary to 'convert' the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I doubt that is even possible.

 

When we discovered that Bin Laden was behind 9/11 we had our target: Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and its members. And they were being harbored by the Taliban. To me the mission was and is to destroy Al Qaeda and its members - and the Taliban or anyone else if they stand in the way.

After 9/11 we knew where they were and we did a half-ass attempt to get them, thanks to the previous 'Bring-it-on/mission-accomplished' administration. Our enemies escaped into the mountains and into Pakistan where Bin Laden still thumbs his nose and makes his plans to hurt us wherever and whenever he can. Until he and his organization are destroyed, they will continue to strike at our people, our infrastructure and the economic heart of the USA and our friends. You need to take the advice of Dick Cheney and read Bin Laden's book. He is smart. He is a former ally and worked with the CIA to oppose the Soviet Union's invasion. And he is very clear about what he wants and what the goal of his organization is and why he feels that way.

 

I fear that the distraction and diversion of resources by the Iraq debacle has not only withered our world-wide support, but also the resources and perhaps the will of the people of the USA to return to what should have been the primary, the ONLY mission after 9/11, and that was to kill Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and as many of its members as possible. Worse the debacle might have provided the time they needed to make that mission a lot more difficult today than it would have been if we'd done it right back then.

 

If we 'redefine' the original mission so that we can remove our soldiers from harm's way, then there is no reason that Bin Laden and his followers cannot move right back with the Taliban, retake that country, and harm us again, just the way he has pledged his life and the lives of his followers to do. This will not end by our withdrawal. Withdrawal will indeed bring it closer to us by invigorating our enemies. This is a mortal fight. We must refocus our will to fight this to the end. Their end.

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Have any of you seen the movie based on a true story, Charlie Wilsons War? The USA armed and supplied those Afgan fighters with all the latest war machines and used them as pawns to force Russia out of Afganistan, so we did not have to become directly involved, which they did accomplish, and then we left those people with a country totally destroyed and no way to rebuild. As the movie pointed out if we had back then spent a few million dollars to rebuild schools, hospitals, transportation, and irrigation systems we would have had a stable country instead of the mess we have today and most importantly 9/11 would have never happened. Our failure then allowed Al Queida and the Taliban to rise to power by providing the people what we would not, a new infrastructure and a sense of security. No American lives ever needed to be lost in Afganistan or NYC on 9/11 if we had done the right thing back then, and instead of a fierce enemy we would have had a strong ally today.

 

Now we are face yet another full scale incursion into an area of such hostile terrain, and where a small group can hold off a much larger one for a very very long time, as the Russians found out firsthand. I truly hope for the sake of our troops that this time cooler heads prevail and wisdom wins out over warmongering.

 

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

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BadenP, that is not a documentary film...there's a little more to it.

After Bin Laden and the Taliban defeated the Soviet Union, as you mentioned we just walked away - because our attention turned to Saddam as a potential threat to middle east oil. This threat was real. The Saudis also understood this and we had a long-standing agreement with them since 1945.

Where we had used Bin Laden as a proxy to fight the Soviets, we now saw a different threat and the Saudis had two alternatives for their protection: Bin Laden made his pitch to provide the needed protection - he had close ties to the Royal Family, knew the region better than anyone, and he had just defeated the Russians. On the other hand, the USA offered to provide our forces for protection. We offered to base our forces in Saudi Arabia but the Saudis weren't too hot about a permanent foreign military presence on their soil. So Dick Cheney was sent to negotiate an agreement in which we agreed to remove ourselves from Saudi soil once the threat of Saddam was gone.

Incidentally, the early statements by GHW Bush were that we needed to take action in response to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in order to ensure the economic security of our sources of energy. The American people did not support war for oil so over a period of time the rhetoric changed to promoting action in order to advance freedom and democracy or something along those lines. There is a speech in which, for example, GHW Bush described Saddam's troops dumping babies out of hospital incubators in order to cut the heart out of Kuwait. The American people came around and we took action.

BUT during 'Gulf 1' we decided not to pursue Saddam all the way to Baghdad but rather to contain him with over a longer term. Our forces therefore would remain in Saudi Arabia as a result and in the eyes of the Islamic world, we failed to live up to the expected withdrawal. These are the events that made Bin Laden our mortal enemy. Now Saddam is gone, 9/11 has happened along with all the rest, and we are still there.

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Pack

First of all I referenced the movie because I doubt very much whether anyone had actually read a book about the crisis. And you miss the point entirely or you made it depending on the view, yes we put oil first and walked away from a job half finished. The result was we let an evil occur and allowed terrorists to rise to power in Afganistan, and over 3,000 Americans lost their lives on 9/11 to appease the Saudis who did not really need our help in the first place. The president, his advisors, and the Congress all made a huge error in judgement resulting in that area of the world becoming the most unstable and dangerous that now threatens all humanity. By the way pack are you avoiding sports arenas, transportation terminals, and amusement areas per the new heightened threat alert? Yet another result of not learning from the past.

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