Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tell me again: why are we there???

Afghanistan Strategy Focuses on Civilian Effort
Disappointing Offensive in Marja Shapes Kandahar Plan
Published: June 8, 2010
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The prospect of a robust military push in Kandahar Province, which had been widely expected to begin this month, has evolved into a strategy that puts civilian reconstruction efforts first and relegates military action to a supportive role.

The strategy, Afghan, American and NATO civilian and military officials said in interviews, was adopted because of opposition to military action from an unsympathetic local population and Afghan officials here and in Kabul.

There are also concerns that a frontal military approach has not worked as well as hoped in a much smaller area in Marja, in neighboring Helmand Province.

The goal that American planners originally outlined — often in briefings in which reporters agreed not to quote officials by name — emphasized the importance of a military offensive devised to bring all of the populous and Taliban-dominated south under effective control by the end of this summer. That would leave another year to consolidate gains before President Obama’s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing combat troops.
Mind you, I don't mind the shift to civilian projects... BUT: this shift is 180-degrees away from the strategy announced just 3 months ago!

Do we have a clue what we're doing?
Apparently not.

Taliban Aim at Officials in a Wave of Killings
... and...
Militants Attack NATO Goods in Pakistan
Are we any closer to a desired end state today than we were eight (8!!!) years ago???

Well, this is not encouraging:
General Forecasts Slower Pace in Afghan War
Published: June 10, 2010
BRUSSELS — The top United States and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, acknowledged Thursday that efforts in Kandahar to drive back Taliban insurgents were likely to take significantly longer than planned, raising new questions about what can be achieved in southern Afghanistan before the end of the year.
At what point will our political and military leaders decide to declare victory and get out of Afghanistan?
At what point will the American people DEMAND that we get out of Afghanistan?

I'm not big on Afghanistan/Vietnam comparisons (I think the better comparison is current NATO Afghan fiasco with Soviet Afghan fiasco!), but here are a few relevant observations from a review of Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam in the current New York Review of Books:
...President Kennedy had repeatedly asserted privately that a guerrilla war could not be won by foreign troops, even in large numbers. Eventually foreign troops go home, he said; the guerrillas stay. No lasting “victory” is possible for the foreigners. ...
... and the book's chapter headings provide a very nice outline to guide our thinking regarding the continuing Afghan fiasco:
1. Counselors Advise but Presidents Decide.

2. Never Trust the Bureaucracy to Get It Right.

3. Politics Is the Enemy of Strategy.

4. Conviction Without Rigor Is a Strategy for Disaster.

5. Never Deploy Military Means in Pursuit of Indeterminate Ends.

6. Intervention Is a Presidential Choice, Not an Inevitability.
Stop the madness!

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