Foreign Policy

The Peace Candidate's Plans for Afghanistan: Turnaround in a Year. Or Two.

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"Even with these additional forces, I have to tell you that 2009 is going to be a tough year," Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, said after [President] Obama approved 17,000 additional forces to target the spreading insurgency in southern Afghanistan.

McKiernan called the war in the south "at best stalemated," but said the new troops can gain a toehold. The semantic space between losing and "not winning," as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen has said, leaves room for the military turnaround that U.S. leaders hope will come this year or next….

Military analysts have warned that U.S. casualties could double this year. Already, U.S. deaths in Afghanistan increased threefold during the first two months of 2009 compared with the same period last yearnumbers that have daunted U.S. officials as they turn their attention from Iraq to the new battle lines in Afghanistan.

"Unlike Iraq and some of the other problems, this is an area where I've been somewhat uncertain in my own mind what the right path forward is," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters last week.

Gates worried aloud "about an open-ended commitment of increasing numbers of troops for a variety of reasons, including the size of our footprint in Afghanistan and my worry that the Afghans come to see us as not their partners and allies but as part of their problem."

More troops and less success? Sounds like a plan. Though not much of a foreign policy.

Turnaround in a year or two? Are we talking about war or the economy?

More here.

Reason on Afghanistan.

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  1. I’m guessing Obama’s master plan doesn’t include ending the destruction of poppies grown by starving farmers.

    How much extra American (and Afghani) blood will be prevented from being spilt, one wonders, were we to relax to our insistence on keeping foreigners from getting high?

  2. Crimethink, my thoughts exactly. Why in the world are we diverting efforts from ending violence in Afganistan to go after poppies?

  3. Afghanistan isn’t called the Graveyard of Empires for nothing…

  4. Afghanistan, bananastan. I worry about Pakistan. How does a nuclear-armed Taliban suit you? In a couple of years we may be pining for those good old days in Iraq.

  5. Obama wants to shift the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan because Afghanistan is a “legitimate” war, in that they harbored the actual masterminds behind 9-11. He still wants to throw America’s weight around, but he wants to do it in a way that his supporters prefer.

    Yay.

  6. We’re in a war?

  7. It kinda sucks I was born to see the end of the great experiment that was the U.S. Sometimes I wish I was born to see the pre-New Deal days, or the Colonial/Revolutionary period.

    Sure, we have great medicine and I’m free to be an atheist and all, but I fear I will watch these freedoms dissolve along with country in my lifetime.

    It’s been a good run though, huh?

  8. Fear not Taktix. Free markets work so there will inevitably be at least one “experiment” in this world at any given time. You might have to move to live there, but so did millions before you.

  9. A mountainous landlocked country on the other side of the world. With no reliable allies in the region & an a population that is increasingly viewing our presence as occupiers. This is a great place to fight a war.

  10. Why are talking about this instead of Gaza? Where is MNG?

  11. I’m guessing Obama’s master plan doesn’t include ending the destruction of poppies grown by starving farmers.

    I hope you are right. Then my friends can stop whining about the price.

  12. Barack Obama was the peace candidate?

  13. Barack Obama was the peace candidate?

    Yes, with “candidate” being the operative word…

  14. That reminds me, what about Bananastan? That place is a freaking powder keg.

  15. Why in the world are we diverting efforts from ending violence in Afganistan to go after poppies?

    I’ve wondered this exact same thing. Repeatedly.

  16. Obama wants to shift the focus from Iraq to Afghanistan because Afghanistan is a “legitimate” war, in that they harbored the actual masterminds behind 9-11.

    Wouldn’t Pakistan now be the place harboring the actual masterminds?

    Obama’s biggest problem in Afghanistan is Pakistan. His second biggest problem, although I doubt he realizes it yet, given his utter ignorance of things military, is logistics. I doubt he has a clue about what to do about either. I’m not terribly optimistic.

  17. RC Dean, cut him some slack. He’s not the first president of the 21st century to utterly fuck up in Afghanistan.

    Or was it was a masterful piece of logistic strategery to divert troops from Tora Bora just as we had Osama trapped there?


  18. He’s not the first presidentleader of

  19. Can’t we just burn down the marketplace, chase the natives up into the hills, blow up a few bridges, and then get the hell out of there? What is there to be gained in that shithole?

  20. sigh, trying again:

    He’s not the first presidentleader of the 21stany century to utterly fuck up in Afghanistan.

    FTFY, this time with preview.

  21. MNG? Where are you? The natives need your calming guidance.

  22. RC Dean, cut him some slack.

    I am prepared to be awed by Barack’s strategic brilliance and statesmanlike genius. Just as soon as they show up.

  23. I am prepared to be awed by Barack’s strategic brilliance and statesmanlike genius. Just as soon as they show up.

    If you are going to play deaf and blind how about adding mute too?

  24. my worry that the Afghans come to see us as not their partners and allies but as part of their problem.

    You don’t say…

  25. Obama fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia.

  26. RC Dean, cut him some slack.

    Not too much, though; you don’t want too much slack, because the result isn’t pretty.

  27. I’m not sure if you really want to see what’s in this picture, but look at this Afghan riddled with holes.

  28. [General David] McKiernan called the war in the south “at best stalemated,” but said the new troops can gain a toehold.

    OMFG . . . He sounds EXACTLY like McClellan. And with that, there’s the possibility Il Duce, fancying himself the new Lincoln, will then call his own Burnside, and send all to hell.

  29. R C Dean,
    I am prepared to be awed by [Il Duce’s] strategic brilliance and statesmanlike genius. Just as soon as they show up.

    Don’t hold your breath. i mean it, don’t.

    TofuSushi,
    If you are going to play deaf and blind how about adding mute too?

    You must be delusional.

  30. As wrong as the writers on this site were, for as long as they were, about the possibility of success of a surge in Iraq (several writers even claimed reports of improvement were propaganda), one would think some lessons would be learned, and Reason writers would refrain from acting like they had any fucking clue, at all, about matters military.
    Yeah, it’s all well and good to tell us what the commanders think, but spare us your commentary, which will almost certainly be wrong.

  31. Fear not Taktix. Free markets work so there will inevitably be at least one “experiment” in this world at any given time.

    I wish I believed you. But when it comes to free markets, we seem to be standing in a vast and endless desert.

  32. Endless, I say. Think “Dune”.

    Or think “Doom”, if you insist on being honest. But understand, this honesty will destroy all chances of your ever getting elected to anything in the United States.

  33. Reason writers would refrain from acting like they had any fucking clue, at all, about matters military.

    Sure, they don’t have a clue about military matters or the realities of foreign policy either one.

    OTOH, even an idiot can see where the game is heading in Afghanistan.

    In Iraq there was always the hope that we’d make at-pretend-friends with Iran, which in turn (as I’ve long maintained) would lead to a big drop in Iraq’s violence.

    In Afghanistan there is, very simply, no such option in sight. Not only is Pakistan falling apart, but we’ve now pissed off the Iranians by making ovetures to the Taliban (whom the Persians hate, perhaps even more than us because they’re closer).

    We can slough it out in Afghanistan and still end up with nuclear armed terrorists running Pakistan.

    We aren’t leaving Afghanistan until we are, actually fully and entirely, broke and bankrupt. Which Obama & Congress may achieve sometime early next year.

    So you see, the O-Man has a plan to save the day after all.

  34. This makes even less sense in the context of Afghanistan

  35. So you see, the O-Man has a plan to save the day after all.

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