Obama’s choice: 17,000 extra troops for Afghanistan

February 18, 2009

President Barack Obama, in his first major military decision, has authorised the Pentagon to send an extra 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, saying the increase is needed to stabilise a deteriorating situation there.

Obama’s Afghan strategy has been discussed at length, including on this blog (most recently about balancing the need for regional support with the demands of countries like Russia for concessions in return, the military challenges of devising an effective counterinsurgency strategythe views of the Afghan people and Pakistan’s own struggles to contain a Taliban insurgency there.)

But here are a couple of recent articles that are worth reading.

In an article in the Washington Post, headlined “Not Even the Afghans Know How to Fix It”, writer Edward Joseph says that the Afghans cannot agree among themselves what is the best solution for their country. “And there’s the crux of the matter. Because if Afghans don’t know, then neither do we,” he says.

Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Astore asks in TomDispatch why there is so little public concern at home about the fate of U.S. troops – many drawn from poorer and immigrant communities in America — sent on repeated tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Instead of collective patriotic sacrifice,” he writes, “it’s clear that the military will now be running the equivalent of a poverty and recession ‘draft’ to fill the ‘all-volunteer’ military. Those without jobs or down on their luck in terrible times will have the singular honor of fighting our future wars.”

U.S. military reporter and blogger Michael Yon says he believes the U.S. army is more capable of fighting in Afghanistan than any other in history. But one paragraph in his article stands out with its deep sense of misgiving:

“The sum of many factors leaves me with a bad feeling about all this.  The Iraq war, even during the worst times, never seemed like such a bog.  Yet there is something about our commitment in Afghanistan that feels wrong, as if a bear trap is hidden under the sand,” he says.

With Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan still under review, it’s probably too early to draw any firm conclusions about his decision to send an extra 17,000 troops. But did he have a choice? Or is he walking into a trap?

Comments

Umair writes: “because Pakistan is not a weak nation. India is better off gaining greater influence in its own territory, who would want another Mumbai style terrorist strike on India. India’s reputation is already ruined, how far will India go in gaining influence within Pakistan.”

“Pakistan is not a weak nation” – This reminds of the funny looking Iraqi general who kept saying on Iraqi TV that there was no US invasion when the US troops were nearing Baghdad.

“Who would want another Mumbai style attack?” – Indirect acceptance that this attack came from Pakistan and the Pakistanis support it in their hearts. This looks like a cold threat. You had one Mumbai attack. And you can expect more.

“India’s reputation is already ruined” – Only inside Pakistan. One’s reputation gets ruined when what they say and do are not the same. This something Pakistan has been doing. First they said all attackers on Mumbai were not Pakistanis. Now they have come up to six. Soon they will have to acknowledge the truth. Zardari will make a deal with US to help hide his establishment’s involvement in Mumbai attacks for coming close enough to accepting the responsibility for Mumbai.

I am sure some American expert in this region will write in a future memoir about the truth of what happened.

 

Can someone pleae tell me why it is the job of America to POLICE THE WORLD ?
I’m not saying that something is not required here from an outside party…But why should American lives and American dollars be spent here ?
AMERICANS ARE DYING ! FOR WHAT !! ?

Posted by mojos1966 | Report as abusive
 

friends
This time I will do something which i never did in my earlier posts, I would support Umair to an extent.He is right when he say we should put out house in order first. and as far as Anitha’s suggestions are concerned I found them completely ridiculous. for the follwoing reasons
1) She is asking India to do the same mistake what pakistan did. One cant have a treaty or friendship with elements like Talsiban. Ppl who have supported them had to pay through their nose , history stands as a testimony.
2)China doesnt share a border with pakistan the way India does, so supporting taliban has different implications for us
3)China’s society is not as pluralistic as ours is and I hope you understand what i mean by that. So where as Taliban can find ideologicals support in some sections of Inida it wouldnt find so in china.
So i would request you all not to be irresponsible in your comments. U might be happy to see your neighbours house on fire but only so long that it doesnt spread to your home and for that you need to help him extinguish it rather standing a mute spectator or at worst putting fuel into it.

Posted by Prithviraj | Report as abusive
 

naughtypakistani,
This is not a fish, but a SHARK.
If you want to eradiacate AQ and Taliban then why roll over for them in Swat? They committed the the most barbaric crimes there and will not stand trial for it. So they use barbaric acts in order to achieve Sharia Law in Swat. Will those who commited these acts before the peace deal stand trial in a Sharia Court? No, they will not is the simple answer. They will be walking around in the population picking out journalists to murder and get their Mullah leaders to annouce that the murder was done by outsiders.

That M. Sufi said that he came to Swat region to bring peace. Did he and his thugs have to murder people trying to make a living from the region: Pakistani civil servants, Singers, Dancers…etc.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

@ India has no ememity with Taliban..Like china India also should make agreements with Islamists in pakistan who are like reps for Taliban..Supply them with war equipments become a wise war profiteer like US or China or Russia. That will make India safe as well as gain some influence with in Paksitan.
-posted by Anitha

Anitha,
I somewhat agree that India does not have enemity with Taliban. But Taliban considers India as enemy (obviously nothing pleases Pakistan the most). We just have to wait and watch and definitely not get into any mission there. We are not Pakistan and we don’t deal with beheaders of innocents.

@.India cannot wield an iota of influence in Pakistan, simply because Pakistan is not a weak nation.
- Posted by Umair

Umair,
Then this clears India/RAW of any influence in Baluchistan, the largest and the poorest Pak province. Baluch will love Indian support for their independence, what Baluch consider a just cause–India has got the resume to back it up to convince anyone with an “IOTA OF DOUBT”. Like you, I also thought that “Pakistan is not a weak nation.”, but the evidence shows the contrary and Pak is too busy with lots of stuff and is at its weakest best. But we are not getting into your internal mess and will let you deal with it.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

I wish to respond to the comment of mojos1966 with a few words. You should know as an American that your economy is largely based on war factories. As a result, it is vital for US to support this industry by playing the POLICE role to the rest of the world. It is as simple as that. US army does not send its trops to sustain the peace in the world. Anyone who believes that is simply another hypocrite.

Posted by iPapachri | Report as abusive
 

correction:
“without an “IOTA OF DOUBT”.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Rajeev
I can only laugh at your ignorance, Baluchistan has developed into a strategic hub of transportation and energy with development of Gwadar deep sea port. It is the most abundant in oil and gas along with other minerals.
@ Baluch will love Indian support”
-well, only if Pakistan will allow. Indira Gandhi is dead and East Pakistan is Bangladesh. A nuclear Pakistan will simply blow the crap out of anyone trying to destabilize Baluchistan. while India’s resume is filled with lot of dirty jobs it did in East Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it will never find itself in good standing.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive
 

Pakistans former Musharref, Afghanistans Karzai and Obama are all cut of the same cloth. They are all deceptive liars who hide actions which they approve from one another in order to get what THEY want … heaven forbid one does what he feels right regardless of the outcome and effect it has on others. ALL GUTLESS PIGS – and ours even wears lipstick after his cigarette! WHAT A JOKE

Posted by Mornin Joe | Report as abusive
 

@I can only laugh at your ignorance, Baluchistan has developed into a strategic hub of transportation and energy with development of Gwadar deep sea port. It is the most abundant in oil and gas along with other minerals.
- Posted by Umair
—Umair, I agree Baluchistan has Chinese-built Gwadar port and other natural resources and that’s the Pak interest. But not the people giving rise to increasing discontent among Baluchs.

@ Baluch will love Indian support”
-well, only if Pakistan will allow. Indira Gandhi is dead and East Pakistan is Bangladesh. A nuclear Pakistan will simply blow the crap out of anyone trying to destabilize Baluchistan. while India’s resume is filled with lot of dirty jobs it did in East Pakistan and Sri Lanka, it will never find itself in good standing.
- Posted by Umair
-Umair, you are seriously disconnected from the world. India’s status is the pride of Indian and envy of many in the world. This is What the world says about Indi. We don;t have to self-certify. India follows the rules of good neighbourliness, and reacts and shows its might proportionate to the dangers whenever presented. India is uninterested anyways in destblizing Baluch or other place in Pakistan. Former PM Inder K. Gujral shut down RAW’s counteroffensive branch in 199? on moral basis. For argument sake, there is only so much Pakistan can do against baluch once they are turned on. It is hillarious that you talk about NUKES everother sentence! NUKES cannot help you on your own land otherwise Swat would not be under Taliban.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

@Umair,

In the eyes of the world, India has upped Pakistan millions of time over. It is time you quit living in denial, in your gated community in Lahore behind your computer doing tough nuke talk against India.

India has:

-IT leadership of the world, go to Silicon Valley, in US, not many Paks there
-Global Grade Military
-Huge Exports
-Bollywood Industry
-Inclusive, secular, plural, rule of law, democracy
-Equal rights for all (whether they use that for themselves is an entirely diff matter)
-World class Research and Technology development centers
-Brain power to the U.S. and the world
-Excellent food, now popularized in the Western Countries

Umair,

the list goes on, Pakistan is not really worthy of being mentioned on the same list, perhaps on a much lower list, which only Pakistani’s read.

OH…by the way, India’s Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars Last Night…I don’t believe Pakistan even has a real film industry or world reknown actors….

Umair, feel free to rot and fester in your own ignorance, while the rest of the world leaves you behind.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

@OH…by the way, India’s Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars Last Night…I don’t believe Pakistan even has a real film industry or world reknown actors….
- Posted by Global Watcher

Global Watcher: I would not have been interested in Oscar for this movie since it is produced and directed by Brits. But the fact that 2 Indians won 3 Oscars now makes me proud. Congratulations to AR Rehman for 2 oscars (for best score and best song) and 1 oscar for Resul Pookutty for Sound mixing.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

@Umair, Ali, Paks,

Goto Youtube and look at “60minutes”interview with Zardari.

You dumb uneducated Paks just don’t get it. The taliban is not America’s war, it is Pakistan’s war.

I don’t see a single Pak standing up for their country against the taliban.

Fools sit by idly as they waste their time blaming India for everything.

Posted by Global Watcher | Report as abusive
 

@Global Watcher

The Pakistan Army has been fighting militants for a long time. Just because you refuse to acknowledge their sacrifices and contributions, doesn’t mean there are none.

Your other points about Indian greatness are laughable. If India is really so great why are you bothering yourself writing about Pakistan every day ?

 

@rajeev

Indians have an inflated opinion of themselves, leading them to make foolish claims such “india follows good neighborliness”! Indeed thats what India was doing when it sponsored separatism in East Pakistan and Sri Lanka and supported Baloch warlords in West Pakistan.

 

Aamir,
I would rather have an inflated opinion of myself than bend over for the Taliban.

Pakistan is a PROUD BEGGER:
IMF: money (twice).
USA: military aid.
China: everything for friendship..aaaahhhh how sweet.

Do you acually PAY for any of this?

I will show you how inflated I am:

India +3 Oscars.
Paksistan -1 Swat.

Posted by bulletfish | Report as abusive
 

@bulletfish

Your inflated opinion of India leads you to continually make crazy claims.

India still gets foreign aid, and has been among the largest recepients of foreign aid throughout its history.

India also gets loans from international institutions like World Bank.

India also got the bulk of its weaponry and technology from the Soviet Union, by being a client state of it.

Of course an Indian won some Oscars, which I don’t see as any connection to politics or statehood.

 

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