Re Think Afghanistan
By Jeff Morris
April 8, 2009 - 3:25pm ET
President Obama and Secretary Of Defense Gates need to re think the entire strategy in Afghanistan. We have completed eight years in Afghanistan and are now in year nine. We need to re evaluate the objective of the mission, mission strategy, chances of success of that strategy…. I was amazed when top Military commanders in Afghanistan were recently asked “what’s the end game here?” Their answer was “we don’t have an end game strategy.” Year nine, with NO end game strategy?
Afghanistan is twice the size of Iraq, with much of its terrain rugged and mountainous. The Obama administration already escalated the conflict in May of 2009 by sending an additional 21,000 combat troops deployed mainly near the Pakastani border. Does anybody really think 30,000 more combat troops is going to make a difference? It wont. But then we’ll further escalate troop levels. Ignoring the lesson of the old USSR and its disastrous decade long occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980's. Ignoring the lesson of Viet Nam, where troop escalation resulted in more death and injury to our soldiers, but made no difference in the outcome.
On Sept 11, 2001 the U.S. was attacked by the radical Islamic terrorist group Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda had a safe haven in Afghanistan for recruiting, training, and generally growing and spreading their radical ideology. The U.S. retaliated in late 2001 and thought they had mostly destroyed Al Qaeda and their supporting ally the Taliban Regime, which ruled Afghanistan at that time. They hadn't. Then somehow the U.S. took its eye off the ball, began withdrawing troops and re deploying them to another recently started War front, Iraq.
We scaled back our troop numbers in Afghanistan and compromised the mission of defeating those who attacked us on 9-11-01, for a new mission in Iraq. A nation who had nothing to do with 9-11-01 and who never posed any real threat to the U.S. The U.S. destroyed Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, and over four thousand of our own soldiers. Totally unnecessary. All the while allowing Al Qaeda and the Taliban to re group, recruit, and grow back to a force that at this present time represents just as big a threat to U.S. security as it did prior to 9-11-01.
At the same time Afghan poppy production flourished. The size of Afghanistan's poppy crop has quadrupled from 2002-2009. The enormous money generated by the illegal poppy-heroin trade will now keep Al Qaeda and the Taliban supplied with arms for a long time to come. What is the plan for dealing with this? Remember the geography factor, the mountainous terrain and sheer total size of Afghanistan. We don't want troop escalations that only serve to get more of our troops killed and injured along with the Afghan civilian population. We don't want to raise the stakes with a strategy that has unrealistic expectations.
Yes, Pres Obama and Sec Of Defense Gates need to re think a lot of things. Afghanistan has all the makings of becoming Obama’s Viet Nam like quagmire. But there’s still time to avert an even bigger disaster. Troop escalation may well prove to not be the answer for success in Afghanistan.
Jeff Morris-Saugerties, N.Y.- DeJaVu57
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