During the campaign President Obama defined Iraq as a “bad war” and Afghanistan the “good war,” so it was no surprise when the POTUS put securing Afghanistan near the top of his foreign policy agenda. What was surprising was an interview he gave ABC where he said “victory” in the war-torn country isn’t necessarily the United States’ goal.”I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur,” Obama told ABC News.
The enemy facing U.S. and Afghan forces isn’t so clearly defined, he explained.
“We’re not dealing with nation states at this point. We’re concerned with Al Qaeda and the Taliban, Al Qaeda’s allies,” he said. “So when you have a non-state actor, a shadowy operation like Al Qaeda, our goal is to make sure they can’t attack the United States.”
So which is it Mr. President? It seem silly to urge our military heroes to fight and possibly die for to protect their country in a war that we have no intention to win.
If we do intend to win, many senior people in Congress are urging a super-sized surge in Afghanistan, to win the war, they are saying we need to more than double the size of our forces to 400,000. According to Bloomberg:
In letters and face-to-face meetings, the lawmakers and the advisers have urged Obama, National Security Advisor Jim Jones and the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan to boost the Afghan National Army and police from current levels of 175,000 to at least 400,000.
“Any further postponement” of a decision to support a surge in Afghan forces will hamper U.S. efforts to quell an insurgency in its eighth year, Senators Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, wrote to the White House in a July 21 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.
…U.S. intelligence agencies, in a document submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee April 24, estimated the Afghan Army alone would need to grow to 325,000 — more than triple its current strength — to mount an effective counterinsurgency.
In a meeting last week with Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, the deputy national security adviser who oversees Afghan policy at the White House, Levin said a substantial expansion of Afghan forces is essential, according to his spokeswoman, Tara Andringa.
In a May 19 letter to Obama, 17 Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Levin, a Michigan Democrat, Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, echoed the Afghan government’s view that a doubling of Afghan forces is needed. They cautioned Obama against “taking an incremental approach” that “does not reflect the realities on the ground.”
…A similar message was drummed home by a dozen civilian national security experts in meetings with McChrystal and in a written report they gave him after a month in Afghanistan assessing ground conditions.
McChrystal asked the analysts from the secretary of defense’s office, the Congressional Research Service, Washington research institutions, the European Union and a French think tank for help in preparing his assessment.
Gates has given McChrystal more time to finish his review, originally due in mid-August. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said today Gates expects it by late August or early September.
The calls for the administration to raise the targets for more Afghan forces echo comments to reporters last month by Brigadier General Larry Nicholson, commander of U.S. Marines leading an offensive in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. He said he was “not going to sugarcoat it. The fact of the matter is we don’t have enough Afghan forces” partnering with U.S. troops.
I happen to believe that we need to win in Afghanistan to secure victory in the war of terror, but if we are going to win we need to do it right. This is war not politics, people’s lives are at stake, out hero armed forces, the Afghan people and the people here in the United States. I wish I had the confidence in our President to make the right decision even in it will not make him popular with his liberal supporters.