With the decision on the strategy and objectives in Afghanistan to be presented by the Obama administration soon, there can be one thing for certain: he will be criticized no matter what decision he makes. He inherited a mess in Afghanistan. To complicate matters, he is receiving mixed signals from leaders who have some experience and understanding of the great importance of his decisions.
General Stanley McChrystal, in charge of the coalition forces in Afghanistan, says: we need 40,000 additional troops or we will lose.
General Karl Eikenberry, current ambassador in Afghanistan and former military leader there: do not send additional troops until President Karsai agrees to clean up the rampant corruption in his administration.
General Colin Powell, former leader of all U.S. troops says to Obama: "take your time" in making your decision [as others, with no military experience, clamor for Obama to make a hasty decision].
Who knows what is the right course of action in Afghanistan? The Middle East has always been a cauldron. The European colonialist historical actions in the area and myriad mistakes of the Bush administration have ramped up the hostility toward the U.S.
The biggest danger by far is the military madness proposed in some circles. To some, anything in which we exhibit our military might is good; not showing our military might is bad. This is stupidity to the max. Have we learned nothing from Vietnam? As in Vietnam, we are supporting a corrupt regime. As in Vietnam, everytime we hit a snag we increase our military. All this does and did was increase the hostility of the Vietnam people who would have voted for Ho Chi Minh with an 80% majority [remember, we promised the Vietnamese a united Vietnam general election and then reneged on it and supported a horrible South Vietnam administration in Saigon].
Space does not permit me here to offer suggestions regarding possible solutions to the quagmire in Afghanistan. On our current course we will be tied down there for many years to come with unsatisfactory outcomes. We have to figure out a way to make concrete, specific, positive things happen in the villages of Afghanistan. And we have to sit down and discuss things with the tribal representatives in the various regions. Building roads, providing health care facilities, building schools, giving the people and their leaders other options to make a living than raising opium, etc. This will help. But these are oversimplifications. Lots of cultural, political, economic, and social grunt work needs to be done in the villages, among and for the people.
President Obama is faced with a no-win situation. We have no business even being in this area of the world in the capacity we now present ourselves. Our military presence has only made things more complicated, and has increased the possibility that we may have to stay for a long, long time with minimum results. We had Osama bin Laden trapped in Torah Borah, but the Bush decisions diverted our attention away from that and has created this impossible situation. The decisions that Obama will openly report will be greeted with heavy-heavy criticism, no matter what he decides.