As a strategy, Obama's plan for Afghanistan is an order of magnitude better then what we were doing before, and an order of magnitude worse than walking away from the region. Or at least, that is my opinion at the moment. Here's some interesting discussion on it:
Here's an even more interesting bit of discussion with Rory Stewart, Harvard Professor and Afghanistan expert, on Bill Moyers Journal last week:
It's in three parts and well worth watching.
Out of all the mess emanating from the 'stans in the last eight years, the one thing I personally find scary is the prospect of the government of Pakistan failing; ready-to-go nuclear weapons and nuke technology in the hands of fanatics scares the hell out of me.
Greg, what are you talking about? This is more of the same. I wouldn't be surprised if Obama is merely modifying the existing plan of the Joint Chiefs that would have been employed regardless of who was in office. In looking at the troop escalation since 2008, it's notable that the deployment has doubled since Obama took office. That suggests it was Bush's decision to pull back the number of troops in Iraq and increase them in Afghanistan. Obama is now signing on to existing policy in the hopes that, by 2011, he can claim victory and pull out.
This strategy is unlikely to succeed. The Afghan security forces are abandoning their stations in droves. They are primarily looking for some kind of stable employment and are not interested in the United States' strategic goals for the region. As I've pointed out, a far more successful approach would be supporting Pushtun autonomy which would deplete the Taliban and their Al Qaeda supporters from taking up arms. If we care about Obama's domestic agenda we need to challenge this decision or watch everything that people worked for in the last election go up in smoke.
The first time we went into Afghanistan, we were helping the rurals bog down the Soviet Army. The CIA created the Taliban -- Ronald Reagan's Freedom Fighters -- and armed them with modern weapons, including Stinger missiles, to ensure that a Soviet military victory would be impossible.
Now we are taking the Soviet Union's side, trying to defeat the Taliban, whom we are at the same time financing by making contractors run supplies through enemy territory, for which they have to pay taxes to the Taliban for safe passage, and the Taliban in turn hire mercenaries from the al-Qaeda database to fight for them, just like the CIA taught them. We are doing a worse job of it than the Soviet Union. At least they were smart enough to send armed escorts along with supply convoys.
This is a hell of a way to run a railroad.
worse. I remember an article from last year (never was able to go back and find it) about how we were giving Pakistan some kind of super-fancy spy places with heavy jamming capability. As in, possible ability to disrupt military operations. Seemed to not be a good idea at the time.
I looked at the Newsweek with Sarah Palin in shorts on the cover whilst at the podiatrist office. There was an information block which said that the wheat harvest in Afghanistan was way up this year, the highest it has been in 50 years. The poppy crop is down by about half. Doesn't his suggests something is working?