Tales from the Trail

How strong is U.S. will for Afghan fight?

September 1, 2009

When George W. Bush was president, Democrats and other critics repeatedly said the United States was fighting the wrong war — it was not Iraq that should have been the center of U.S. military attention, but Afghanistan.

The thinking then was that Afghanistan was where Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda crew had planned the Sept. 11 attacks under the protection of the Taliban and they were the ones to pursue and attack. AFGHANISTAN/

Now that Barack Obama is president, he is trying to wind down the war in Iraq and send more troops to Afghanistan. But it’s been eight years since the Sept. 11 attacks and more than six years since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and Americans are war-weary.

A new CBS News poll found that support is declining for sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, dropping to 25 percent from 39 percent in April. Obama’s approval rating on handling Afghanistan fell eight points to 48 percent from 56 percent in April.

Conservative columnist George Will created a small earthquake with his piece today “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan.” The Atlantic called it a “bombshell.”

Obama is to review a new report from General Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, which is sure to fuel the debate inside the administration over whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan.

What do you think should be the next step for the United States on Afghanistan?

Photo credit: Reuters/Oleg Popov (U.S. soldier in Afghanistan)

Comments
9 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Eight years of effort and little to show, it’s time to bring the boys and girls home. It’s obvious that the American public has lost patience with this war and is now starting to compare it to the Viet Nam quagmire.

While we may have had international support at one time, that support has evaporated, especially since our ill advised invasion and occupation of Iraq. Few, if any, of our political and military leaders have a vision of what victory would be, less much the methodology to achieve it. The country is approximately the size of Iraq, the people do not really support the puppet government that we have installed, and the puppet government does not really provide sufficient security for its people.

Given the scenario of the country today, we do not have the resources, nor the staying power, to rebuild this nation. We are on the verge of bankruptcy and our people are saying to pull the plug now.

Posted by ken | Report as abusive
 

The Primary Target here is Bin Laden and the al Qaeda in large.
The focus should be on that group.Reports state they are in the bordering areas of afghanistan / pakistan., its time to pursue them and finish what the administration set out to do!
Will more troops help? I think its intelligence and according action that will put an end to this very long search seeming in vain

Posted by Arvind | Report as abusive
 

The war in Afghanistan used to be a “killing field” for Afghan civilians. The Americans used to call the air force to drop 2.000 pounds bombs on the area where they were taking fire from, and whole villages were blown up. Then, they called the hundreds of Afghan civilians Talibans to cover up the war crime committed. The last mass killing of civilians in the Farah province where 147 civilians were killed, and the U.s. military
insisted that 80-95 of them were Taliban (Reuters, May 26, 2009), completely unmasked the scorched earth policy of the U.S. and forced some changes in the battlefield.

But the changes have brought more casualties to the U.S. and foreign forces now that the war is not fought
by remote control – a.k.a. leveling whole areas where a shot may come from with B-52 heavy bombers. And now
the Afghanization of the war is in process. It is an exact replay of the Vietnamization of the Vietnam War
that preceded the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. And that is: Train more Afghan troops to fight in the front line
against the Taliban -and take the casualties too, and keep the American troops safely in the back. In other words, hire and train Afghans to kill the anti-U.S. Afghans, then declare victory and go home without admitting defeat, and leave a stooge government behind that can survive only on the U.S. payroll.

But the Vietnamization didn’t bring victory to the U.S. in Vietnam. And when brigades of American paid and trained 600.000 South Vietnamese forces started defecting to the North Vietnamese and VietCong -rather than kill and/or be killed on behalf of the occupying Americans, Nixon realized the war cannot be won and ordered a hasty pull out. And that is what will happen with Obama’s Afghanization of the Afghan war. Afghan recruits join the Afghan army to escape poverty and to get a salary to feed their families. They don’t have a motivation to fight the Taliban, or to help the U.S. to win and sit on their back foverer. Nor they want to allow the U.S. to leave a Babrak Karmal-like stooge behind when it exit Afghanistan.

Obama continues the war because he is afraid that if he show softness on the Taliban he might have a problem on his 2012 campaign. My guess is that he is waiting for the U.S. public opinion to turn against the war, so he can withdraw without jeopardizing his re-election. And until that happens, hundreds more of U.S. troops, and thousands more of Afghan civilians will die for 3 more years for nothing – or, rather, die until Obama finish the calculations of what effect the Afghan War will have on his 2012 re-election. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Posted by Nikos Retsos | Report as abusive
 

Our “war on drugs” will never be settled if we don’t have control of Afgan poppy fields. Now is the time for us to gain 50% of the world’s opium crop. To control the cash flow that ends up in the hands of the Islamic criminal element would leverage our strategic advantage. We could now turn poppy fields into our cash crop instead of our enemies primary means of support. We win in Afganistan by selling their product worldwide. This puts money into the right hands, ours, and the Afgan people will be glad the USA helped them to do what it is that they do best. It’s the only way to win this war but a lack of leadership will keep it from happening. It costs less to give away dope than it does to support the Taliban and all of organized crime. When the street price goes to zero, we will have won the war.

Posted by Bruce | Report as abusive
 

The question how long will the fight last,not long.In spite of what Obama is saying he has no heart for this campaign and his left supporters want him to pull out. Conservatives see this as inevitable this is always the democratic way.Remember Harry Reed declared the iraq war lost.so i would not be surprised if they are considering this the same behind closed doors. The Taliban know the lack of motivation of this government and they smell success.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

AS everyone knows, afghanistan and the enire region (namely Pakistan) is a powderkeg. I don´t believe the USA and Co. can “win” the war. I´m defining winning as ousting the Taliban and returning peace and stability to the entire country.

The USA must negotiate with the Taliban to reach some form of truce with the central government. A complete and sudden withdrawl would leave a power vaccuum that could destabilize both afghanistan and pakistan. Not to mention that no one knows what Karzai will really do if faced with such a vaccuum.

Therefore the coalition must negotiate its presence in the country for the medium term (perhaps as a smaller force to aid in reconstruction as opposed to chasing the Taliban).

This will be difficult of course since the Taliban can win this war if it continues to prolong it.

As far as Osama goes, ancient history. It would be easier to try and find the Yeti than to find him. It´s unlikely that he´s still alive.

Posted by alejandro | Report as abusive
 

Every American war includes a call for self inflicted defeat. It usually includes propaganda from the enemy seeking to use democratic debate to its own ends.

In the war of 1812, there were some who, after the burning of Washington, thought it best to return to colonial status.

In the civil war it happend even before the first blood was shed and continued for most of the war. It was one of Lincoln’s biggest burdens.

In World War II a notable peak of this happened after the awful losses of Iwo Jima, and it may have strenghtend the Imperial cabal’s resolve.

In Korea, it nearly led to the abandonment of what is now a vibrant democracy.

A fundemental premise in terrorist training is that democracy has a short attention span, and tends to over react to current events. The prinicple seems to work pretty well in a lot of cases.

Posted by Nate | Report as abusive
 

Before we can discuss whether the United States has the will to continue the campaign in Afghanistan, we must determine and weigh the reasons we are there in the first place. It’s a lot more complicated than finding a dead Saudi billionaire living in a cave. The supposed international war against terrorism was the pretext for invading Afghanistan. Installing a cooperative government headed by a CIA asset and establishing U.S. military bases throughout the region has provided a perfect cover for the advancement of U.S. economic interests in Central Asia. The market for oil must be protected. Disruptions in supply cause economic chaos around the world. And the money must flow into the right accounts. Given that perspective, how committed to this campaign should Americans be?

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive
 

thanks reuters ,i lead a very interesting life when i worked under cover for the national union of mine workers in a former life,so i am well informed about all the little “trammels” that are placed in peoples way. perhaps another day with getplaning,thanks for the blog.god bless!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

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