Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Afghanistan, pulling out early, a tried and but not necessarily true method of birth (war) control

By Peter Graff
George Will calls for pull-out

The elite conservative commentator will call for ground troops to leave Afghanistan, say publishing sources.

"Forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters,” Will writes in the column, scheduled for publication later this week.

President Obama ordered a total of 21,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan in February and March, and casualties have mounted as the forces began confronting the Taliban more aggressively. August saw the highest monthly death toll for the U.S. since the invasion in 2001, the second record month in a row.

Will’s prescription – in which he urges Obama to remember Bismarck’s decision to halt German forces short of Paris in 1870 - seems certain to split Republicans. He is a favorite of fiscal conservatives. The more hawkish right can be expected to attack his conclusion as foolhardy, short-sighted and na├»ve, potentially making the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

The columnist’s startling recommendation surfaced on the same day that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, sent an assessment up his chain of command recommending what he called “a revised implementation strategy.” In a statement, McChrystal also called for “commitment and resolve, and increased unity of effort.”

In the column, Will warns that any nation-building strategy could be impossible to execute given the Taliban’s ability to seemingly disappear into the rugged mountain terrain and the lack of economic development in the war-plagued nation.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates was asked Monday by Peter Cook of Bloomberg TV: “Are we winning in Afghanistan?”

“I think it's a mixed picture in Afghanistan,” Gates replied. “I think that there aren’t too many people with too rosy a view of what's going on in Afghanistan. I think there are many challenges. But I think some of the gloom and doom is somewhat overdrawn as well. … I think that there are some positive developments. But there is no question our casualties are up and there's no question we have a very tough fight in front of us, a lot of challenges.”