Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Afghan Flypaper

As Decision Day nears and the President considers four options for Afghanistan, a question hovers over his agonizing: Is it a war or an endless occupation?

Will 30, 40 or even 80,000 troops stabilize an unstable country with a corrupt government or, when turmoil persists, stir rage and hatred at Americans for making their people's lives worse?

We went in eight years ago to root out Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists but have succeeded mostly in squeezing them, like toothpaste in a tube, into border areas and across the line into Pakistan.

As a connoisseur of irony, Barack Obama must appreciate the hard fact that the determination of Bush's Neo-Cons to dominate the world with American power has succeeded only in proving how helpless military might alone can be in a world of insurgents who can move freely and escape detection, as Osama bin Laden shows with every taunting tape.

The time the President is taking to decide reflects not dithering, as Dick Cheney puts it, but a recognition that in Afghanistan the US is on foreign policy flypaper, stuck in a situation where more strenuous struggling is as likely to lead to exhaustion as liberation.

The White House debate seems to be less hawks-vs-doves than a sincere struggle to find the least-worst answer to an almost impossible situation. According to one insider, the President is "simply not convinced yet that you can do a lasting counterinsurgency strategy if there is no one to hand it off to."

As a master of the English language, Barack Obama understands that that means an endless occupation.


Holte Ender said...

Freedom and Democracy are two words that many Americans could talk for hours about what those words mean to them personally. To most most Afghanis they are just words, just two words, it has hard to bring Freedom and Democracy to a tribal people who have no understanding the concept. If a surge were to happen, success would take years, and like the insider said ". . . there is no one to hand if off too."

Serious Implications said...

For most, freedom probably means getting rid of foreign intruders. For others, its freedom from home-grown religious oppression. Two problems hard to fix simultaneously.