Blogs » Politcs Plus » Afghanistan:Escalate,maintain or withdraw?

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The day President Barack Obama approved sending 21,000 more troops to Afghanistan; he knew he would be the sole proprietor. We now have 68,000 troops in that rugged and mountainous wasteland, while our allies have only committed 42,000 troops. I think it's the German troops that will not engage at nighttime. We only have 4,000 Marines trying to keep the Taliban from overtaking Heldman(about the size of West Virginia).Heldman is the area where three quarters of Afghanistan's poppy production comes from. That should give you a picture what we are up against.

The Afghan war has lasted more WWI & II combined; not to mention the lives lost and actually monetary cost. Remember President Obama has made the costs of the wars, a budgeted item.

George Will (conservative columnist for the Washington Post) wrote that America's forces should be substantially reduced, to serve a comprehensively revised policy: an offshore policy using intelligent drones, cruise missiles, air strikes, and Special Forces units concentrating on the porous 1,500 mile border with Pakistan. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates disagrees with his long time friend, citing that Afghanistan is too large for an offshore policy because a small Special Force unit could not gather the Intel that is needed. The secretary did not mention that General Petraeus counterinsurgency strategy requires a large force for nation building.

I have seen a couple of documentaries dealing with the problems of fighting the Afghanistan/Pakistan war. The HDTV documentary by Dan Rather reveled a very porous border where the Taliban could walk back and forth across the border without being questioned. A lieutenant told a story of his troops having to scale the mountains bogged down with equipment, while the enemy in sandals took half the time, and just waited at the top of the mountain to ambush them. Last Sunday's “60 Minutes” showed where a group of Marines captured a video camera that was left behind by the enemy. The Taliban was filming the companies' day-to-day operations. Even in a country of 28% literacy, the enemy can be taught to operate weapons and other tools of war. In an interview with the Commanding General, a viewer could sense his frustration because he could not follow the enemy into Pakistan; to knock out the Al Qaeda/Taliban base of operations. At the moment that is being left to aerial drones but a few more mishaps will leave us without this weapon.

The hope of a central government for Afghanistan is out of the question because voter fraud should not surprise anyone. Most of Afghanistan is tribal, where there's no allegiance to a central government. The tribesmen change their positions on a daily basis; depends on the circumstances. The only nation weaker than Afghanistan is Somalia.

The Afghanistan/Pakistan goal is to leave a stable, secure Afghanistan that is freed from the Taliban and is no longer a safe haven for Al Qaeda. A lot of experts agreed that it will take a 10 to 20 year commitment to achieve this goal. The goal sounds familiar and I don't think the American people will have that kind of patience. There are many trouble spots where Al Qaeda can take hold like Somalia, Indonesia, and Yemen.