The First Draft: Musharraf Has Obama’s Answer on Afghanistan
If President Barack Obama wants some extra advice on what to do in Afghanistan, he need look no farther than Pakistan’s former President, Pervez Musharraf.
Send more troops?
* “Yes, absolutely. A military man understands that. The space is too large and your troop level is low,” Musharraf said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
How soon should the decision be taken?
* “I think we should take it immediately. You should have taken it yesterday.”
What would you tell an American public that’s increasingly worried about casualties?
* “The message is certainly that we have to win. We must avoid as much as possible casualties. But when soldiers move and armies act, casualties will be there and we must accept casualties.”
The war in Afghanistan presents a quandary for the Obama administration, which entered office in January promising to correct what it cast as the policy missteps of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
Bush put Musharraf’s Pakistan at the forefront of the U.S. war on terrorism by pressing Islamabad to act against militants in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border.
Musharraf did act. But he also struck peace deals in FATA, which U.S. military officials say allowed militants to regroup for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan that helped drive violence there to its highest levels since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has concluded that more U.S. forces are now needed. The U.S. force level is already set to more than double to 68,000 troops by the end of the year, compared with about 32,000 last December.
Some administration officials fear too large a force could begin to look like a U.S. occupation and set the Americans up for the same sort of defeat suffered by previous world powers, including the Soviet Union and imperial Britain.
Musharraf’s optimism about the chances of a 21st Century victory seems undiminished, however.
* “There’s always a first time,” he said.
Photo Credits: Reuters/Stringer India (Musharraf); Reuters/Ahmad Masood (U.S. Marines); Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama)