Thursday, August 20, 2009

Obama's Unwanted War

As Afghanistan votes, our own President, like George W. Bush before him, has become the proprietor of a conflict most Americans don't understand and don't want.

A new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News shows: "A majority of Americans now see the war in Afghanistan as not worth fighting, and just a quarter say more US troops should be sent to the country...

"The new poll comes amid widespread speculation that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan, will request more troops for his stepped-up effort to remove the Taliban from Afghan towns and villages. That position gets the backing of 24 percent of those polled, while nearly twice as many, 45 percent, want to decrease the number of military forces...

"In January, before President Obama authorized sending an additional 17,000 troops to the country, public sentiment tilted more strongly toward a troop increase."

Last week Richard Holbrooke, our special Ambassador, told foreign policy experts, “The military struggle with US troops is not an open-ended event, but our civilian assistance will continue,” that we have to be "clear about what our national interests are” and that ultimately, success in Afghanistan would be like what a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography, “We’ll know it when we see it.”

This vague formulation is underscored by the sobering facts that, beyond Afghanistan, murders in Iraq are mounting again, and Pakistan with its nuclear weapons is as unstable as ever. Congress added to the uncertainty by leaving Washington without taking action on a long-pending bill to triple economic and development assistance there.

During the presidential campaign last year, John McCain took flak for suggesting the US might be in Iraq for a hundred years. It's time for the Obama White House to start answering the nagging questions about our continuing role in the Middle East:

Is there any way to extricate ourselves from what looks like a permanent occupation and find better ways to protect American interests in that unforgiving part of the world?


Holte Ender said...

Before foreign powers send a military presence into Afghanistan, they should have an historian give them a lecture in futility.

ecthompson said...

No good answers. Pull out now and leave Afghanistan like we did under Reagan. Stay there and pour money and resources into a bottomless pit.