Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More U.S. troops to Afghanistan? Obama's caught in a vise

Obama has a clear choice. Does he want to be a Democrat or be a President?

He was elected to be President, so be one!! The choices are bleak.
(1) NATO is surrounded in Afghanistan and logistical support is limited to air convoys. More troops will make that worse. McCrystal has made his choice, he wants to be part of the Military Industrial Complex where winning isn't the objective, profits are the objective.
(2) Leave Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, and maybe shift his attention to Pakistan, which really matters.
(3)increase the NATO contingent and continue a war policy that has only 1 in 10 chances of success anyway.

Sun Tzu in his book "The Art of War" says never commit to a losing choice. Withdraw and recomit at a better time. Winning is always a political objective not a military expediency.

Whatever he choses you can depend on 1 thing the Military Industrial comlex has a backup plan to make more profit and paint anyone that doesn't support their profit's bottom line as weak on National Security.


If the Afghan War was ever winnable the Cheney-Bushistas (bullshistas) would have done so, because they wanted and craved the glory. They soon discovered, after a few staged and super-hyped "successes", that they couldn't win their war and were mired down. To distance themselves from the looming catastrophe, they made a name change from American Forces to NATO Forces. To escape even more embarrassment, for their reckless adventure in Afghanistan, they "ginned up" and super-hyped another war to find those "WMD's" that were here or there and maybe even everywhere. In quick succession they began appointing a series of new NATO and American Commanders in 2 "theaters" of war. (They were all American Generals) Unfortunately all these Generals in Command have adopted historically failed military strategies. They should have read "The Art of War" or the military strategies of Alexander The Great. The Cheney-Bushistas last desperate act before the 2008 elections was to download their unfinished business onto another Presidency and blame it for the loss.

Because the Cheney-Bush Presidency didn't negotiate long term leases with Kyrgyzstan, (A logistical blunder with imminent consequences) the Government of Kyrgyzstan will close the US military base in Manas to Americans. They have virtually ordered the Americans (NATO) out of their Country, shutting an indispensable supply line for America(NATO). The only remaining land supply lines are through the steep gorges and nearly indefensible high mountain passes like the Khyber Pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The steep and narrow valley gorges between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan are already under siege and effectively closed. The Taliban have demonstrated they can close any high mountain pass between Afghanistan and Tajikistan or Pakistan, almost at will. America (NATO) may have to fight it's way out of Afghanistan through Pakistan. This is a Military Planer's nightmare and it could come true. Lets hope not, but the logistical odds are against us, about 10 to 1.

If the passes were cut off, then the only exit would be by expensive, cumbersome and limited airlift, leaving most of the heavy weapons and materials behind. Only a moron would deploy forces into areas without reliable logistical support. But that's exactly what the Cheney-Bush Presidency did. The 103,000 troops under McChrystal's command in Afghanistan, include 63,000 Americans, more than half of whom arrived this year as part of an escalation strategy begun under the previous Cheney-Bush Presidency. Under the Obama Presidency the force is set to rise to 110,000 including 68,000 Americans by December 2009.

If you have Google Earth I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the countries on all sides of Afghanistan and ask yourself the following question; How can I give adequate logistical support to the present forces or more forces in the future? Then take a ground eye view of the Khyber Pass and ask yourself; How could I move thousands or even 10 troops through this natural killing field? You can't and you shouldn't because these passes can close at any time for any reason. Currently all passes between Afghanistan and Pakistan are closed because of an "agriculture inspection" quarrel. These switchback passes are narrow and enclosed within steep gorges and high canyon walls. Vulnerable bridges can be closed by landslides, earthquakes, snow, rain, mud slides, flash floods, Taliban attacks or simple quarrels between neighboring tribes. Any of which can disable or wipe out infrastructure for weeks at a time. Imagine the predicament of a battalion including heavy vehicles and tanks caught between two non-existent bridges and a steep cliff on one side and a deep gorge on the other. Do you begin to see their vulnerabilities, now just add rain or snow. Would the Taliban allow them to pass without a single casualty? Even if 1 tank were simply disabled could the others continue unhindered?

All domestic costs including Congressional allocations of about a hundred or so billion dollars a year, will be between $3 to $6 trillion dollars. This is equal to 1/4 to 1/2 our Gross Domestic Production. Most if not all of our domestic programs, including Medi-Care and Social Security will become impossible. Afghanistan will be politically fatal for this and future Presidencies. All choices will end in tears. Now the logical question arises; "Should we bet the farm and go for it"? Unfortunately the Cheney-Bush Presidency already did and the farm is in jeopardy

In the background we can still hear the apoplectic Pentagon shill, Dick Cheney, shouting out his constant and reckless drivel, desperately continuing to shift the blame onto the following Presidency. He is obviously and irresponsibly defending his fabricated justifications for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. There was no meaningful reason to invade Afghanistan. I agree with George F. Will, "Only Pakistan really mattered".

In a recent article by James Cordesman he lays out his reasons for the apparent failures up to today. The main point I would make about his article is; He is fully vested in failed policies and was a prominent talking head during the cheer leading portion of the run-up to the Afghan and Iraqi wars. He also lays out the same tired and discredited view that it's ”Not our fault”. (When will they ever take responsibility for their job?) It is my recollection that during every funding request, they were given more money than they asked for and they spent it. I remember seeing pallets of money being unloaded in Baghdad and it simply disappeared without any accounting, whatsoever. Maybe Afghanistan became the stepsister of Iraq, but they had a job to do and they are now whining about not having sufficient support. Well here is the best advice that the Military/Industrial Complex can get; “Get out now and take full responsibility for your failure”. Be Patriots not Parasites"!!

By Steven Thomma, Jonathan S. Landay and David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — With the military and Republicans publicly pressuring him to send more troops to Afghanistan soon and his own administration now deeply divided about how to proceed there, the eight-year war against al Qaida and the Taliban has become an increasingly urgent policy and political dilemma for President Barack Obama.

He can escalate an unpopular and open-ended war and risk a backlash from his liberal base or refuse his commanders and risk being blamed for a military loss that could tar him and his party as weak on national security.

Obama's decision could be a defining moment of his presidency, and it will reveal much about how he leads. Friends and enemies around the world will be watching — and judging — whether he's firmly in charge or whether he instinctively seeks some safe middle ground.

"This is tough for Democrats. They own this war. They own what happens from here on out. This is a bit of a mess for them all the way around," said Juan Carlos Zarate, a senior adviser at Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former official in the Bush and Clinton administrations.

In interviews with McClatchy last week, military officials and other advocates of escalation expressed their frustration at what they consider "dithering" from the White House. Then, while Obama indicated in television interviews Sunday that he isn't ready to consider whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, someone gave The Washington Post a classified Pentagon report arguing that more troops are necessary to prevent defeat.

The White House insisted anew Monday that the president won't be stampeded into a quick decision on more troops, saying that he first wants to make sure there's a sound strategy in place to secure Afghanistan and make certain that it can't be used as a haven for al Qaida terrorists, as it was before 2001.

His hesitation reflects deep divisions within his own administration and deep uncertainty about whether, even with tens of thousands more troops, the U.S. can succeed in Afghanistan without a less corrupt and legitimately elected Afghan government, greater cooperation from neighboring Pakistan and more time and money than the American public and the Congress may be willing to commit.

Opponents of escalation, led by Vice President Joe Biden and his national security adviser, Antony Blinken; Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon; and deputy secretaries of state Jacob Lew and Jim Steinberg, fear that Afghanistan is a quagmire that will further undermine the administration's domestic political agenda and hurt the Democrats in next year's congressional elections.

The Pentagon itself is sharply divided over what to do, said several defense officials who weren't authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity, with much, but not all, of the uniformed military lined up behind Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. McChrystal wrote the leaked memo, but top policy advisers such as Deputy Secretary of Defense Michele Flournoy oppose his plan. Some senior officers also are concerned that sending more troops to Afghanistan would add to the already severe strains on an Army and Marine Corps from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Opponents of a buildup contend that al Qaida, which they note is based in Pakistan, not in Afghanistan, could be neutralized by having U.S. special forces standing by and ready to attack bin Laden's followers once actionable intelligence on their locations is acquired.

This group "wants to find an area where you can pay off enough warlords to provide you with security and then launch from there," another defense official said, requesting anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly. Meantime, he said, this group would continue building up and training Afghan security forces.

That alternative, however, would require more U.S. troops to train Afghan forces.

McChrystal and other proponents of committing more troops argue, as his memo does, that success in Afghanistan is "still achievable" but without more U.S. troops soon, the war "will likely result in failure."

The internal debate behind closed doors comes as the American people increasingly oppose the war. In one recent poll for CNN, 58 percent said they opposed the war, while 39 percent favored it. The poll was conducted Sept 11-13.

They also don't much like the idea of sending more troops. A McClatchy-Ipsos poll at the end of August found 56 percent of Americans opposed to sending more troops, while 35 percent favored it.

Not surprisingly, many Democrats in Congress oppose sending more troops. Many of them will face re-election next year.

"It would be a major mistake to increase troop levels — we're getting sucked into something we'll never be able to get out of," said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., said it would be a waste of manpower to send more troops to Afghanistan. "There's no military solution to Afghanistan," she said.

Other Democrats want to wait for Obama to take the lead rather than risk splitting with their leader over a controversial war in the first year of his presidency.

"Until the president makes a decision on this, I think we're really jumping way ahead of ourselves to find out what we need in Afghanistan," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Republicans are urging Obama to give McChrystal what he wants — and threatening to lambaste Obama if he backs down.

Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, his party's leader in the House of Representatives, noted that Obama in March endorsed the idea of a strong counterinsurgency strategy to secure Afghanistan.

"I am deeply troubled, however, by reports that the White House is delaying action on the general's request for more troops . . . . It's time for the president to clarify where he stands on the strategy he has articulated, because the longer we wait, the more we put our troops at risk."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky echoed Boehner in calling for Obama to give McChrystal what he asks: "Anything less would confirm al Qaida's view that America lacks the strength and the resolve to endure a long war."

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that Obama refuses to be rushed into a decision and that he won't order more troops unless a clear strategy demands that.

"The president obviously has seen General McChrystal's report and has had a chance to look at it and is in the process of, with his national security team and those at the Pentagon, working through some of the strategic assessments that the president thinks need to be evaluated," Gibbs said.

Gibbs refused to say whether that might include scaling back the Afghanistan mission to a strategy focused more narrowly on al Qaida leaders.

"The president is going to focus on getting the strategy right," Gibbs said, "and I'm not going to go through what options he may or may not have."

There are currently 65,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There are expected to be 68,000 by November with the arrival of the last of the 17,700 troops and 4,000 trainers Obama ordered in the spring. There are an additional 39,000 NATO troops.

(William Douglas and Nancy A. Youssef contributed to this article.)