POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Bob Herbert … tough questions for Obama in Afghanistan

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 6, 2009

Bob Herbert writes in today’s NYT …

  • Mr. Obama is planning to commit thousands of additional American troops to the war in Afghanistan, which is already more than seven years old and which long ago turned into a quagmire.
  • Sending thousands of additional men and women (some to die, some to be horribly wounded) on a fool’s errand in the rural, mountainous guerrilla paradise of Afghanistan would be madness.
  • The time to go all out in Afghanistan was in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 terror attacks. That time has passed.
  • Our interest in Afghanistan is to prevent it from becoming a haven for terrorists bent on attacking us. That does not require the scale of military operations that the incoming administration is contemplating.
  • The government we are supporting in Afghanistan is a fetid hothouse of corruption, a government of gangsters and weasels whose customary salute is the upturned palm.
  • If Mr. Obama does send more troops to Afghanistan, he should go on television and tell the American people, in the clearest possible language, what he is trying to achieve. He should spell out the mission’s goals, and lay out an exit strategy.
  • He will owe that to the public because he will own the conflict at that point. It will be Barack Obama’s war.

LMW COMMENT … Tough decisions ahead, with uncertain consequences. I think we should find and kill Osama bin Laden and other Qaeda operatives. But the history of fighting in Afghanistan – England in the 19th century, Russia in the 20th, and America now – is that victory is an ill-defined and unachievable concept. I agree with Bob Herbert that we don’t belong on the ground trying to create or prop up a regime in Afghanistan. What we need is a strategy that will eliminate the terrorists who live there. But is there such a strategy? Will the Obama team find it?

Read the entire column at … http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/06/opinion/06herbert.html?ref=opinion



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