Monday, October 5, 2009

Afghan pullout will boost morale of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban

For the past few decades United States military actions around the globe have been seen as imperialistic. During that same time frame, I wondered why it is our role as Americans to defend those in the world from tyranny. We have assisted, overtly and covertly, countries to stay off an aggressor or overthrow a dictator. Now we fight an enemy that holds no allegiance but to a book of words. With no country to affiliate Al-Qaeda or the Taliban with it makes engaging them difficult as well as a legal nightmare at home. President Obama promised to close Gitmo by year end and looks to be inching closer to accomplishing that. While the focus has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal, U.S. Commander in the region, has hit a road block with the Obama Administration. In fact, Gen. McChrystal has limited, only two meetings, with the president on the issue of Afghanistan.

Gen. McChrystal seeks additional troops in the region to take the fight to the Taliban. In an unprecedented move General Sir David Richards, head of the British Army, said, "If Al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they have defeated us – what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state and that is a terrifying prospect. Even if only a few of those weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them. The recent airlines plot has reminded us that there are people out there who would happily blow all of us up" (Telegraph.uk.com). Gen. Richards added, "Failure would have a catalytic effect on militant Islam around the world and in the region because the message would be that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have defeated the US and the British and NATO, the most powerful alliance in the world. So why wouldn't that have an intoxication effect on militants everywhere? The geo-strategic implications would be immense."

Gen. McChrystal has asked President Obama for 30,000 to 40,000 additional troops. Yet, President Obama wants to take a "wait and see" approach to Afghanistan. I recall back when the first Gulf War took place and troops were sent without the proper gear and armor. Why if the General on the ground is asking for more troops does the president balk at the idea? Vice President Biden has stated that NATO should reduce troop numbers and concentrate on a counter-terrorist approach of using Special Forces; an approach the Gen. Richards believes will be a failure. In listening the Gen. Richards words and reading his interview it is the first time in recent memory that another NATO member has voiced concern of this magnitude.

Imagine if NATO fails in Afghanistan. Imagine the ego boast it will give, as Gen. Richards points out, to the militant Islam nation. Not only have they defeated NATO but not too long ago they embarrassed, with the help of anti-aircraft missiles from the United States, Russia. With Russia, US, Britain, and NATO all groups the Taliban have conquered in their region, can you imagine the reaction and recruitment abilities of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban? The recruitment and Western hatred will multiply more than any transgressions the CIA may have undertaken with water boarding or other torture methods.

In the mean time our Commander-in-Chief Obama will use this week to determine what is the best approach with two meetings with his war council. The one thing I cannot understand is why Gen. McChrystal is not part of the war council. While we wait, 8 more Americans died yesterday when Taliban insurgents attacked a lightly manned outpost near the border of Pakistan. According to an article in L.A. Times, 8 Americans die in fierce Afghan battle, the two outposts attacked had "recently received word that they soon would be pulling out" to defend higher populated areas.

President Obama is in a difficult situation as the Democrat base is pushing for a complete withdrawal of the Afghanistan while Gen. McChrystal, and others, are pushing for more troops and resources to finish the battle. The Afghan War is now Obama's War. During the Presidential campaign, Sen. Obama said he'd pull out of Iraq and bring home the troops while taking the fight to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Many missed this impossibility and recognizing the shell game Sen. Obama was playing. A recent CBS/New York Times poll said that 47% of the people approved of the War in Afghanistan while 42% oppose it.

The poll also revealed that 55% of Democrats oppose the war. As President Obama continues his push for Health Care reform it will be intriguing to see where he puts his political capital. No matter which course President Obama decides on, I hope it is done quickly so events like yesterday do not continue. Leaving our troops in undermanned outpost is suicidal and their blood is on Obama's hands.