Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Will Afghanistan Be Obama's Iraq?

Now that it seems hostilities are simmering down in Iraq, we will be paying more attention to Afghanistan. Readers will remember Afghanistan, it is, after all where the United States first struck back in the War on Terror. We were successful back then in overturning the Taliban led government and routing the Taliban, who were known to have provided a safe haven to Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts. Then George W, Bush took his eye off the ball and headed out to Iraq for his next conquest.

Barack Obama, during the campaign season told us that one of his priorities will be to get back in to Afghanistan and finish the job that George W. Bush bungled. So as we draw down troops from Iraq, we will be sending replacement troops (likely troops currently recovering back home from their last deployment in Iraq) back in to the fray in Afghanistan.

Just so everyone reading along here can get up to speed on Afghanistan, and what we are in for, here are some of the recent headlines that were likely overlooked during all of the recent political coverage in the media (each of the headlines below are links to full aritcles):

G.I.'s in Remote Afghan Post Have Weary Job, Drawing Fire

War Casualties

Obama Administration Likely To Deploy Tens Of Thousands Of Troops To Afghanistan

Record opium harvest in Afghanistan threatens new heroin crisis in Britain

Afghan aid to insurgents alledged in attack on U.S. troops

Karzai Demands Obama End Civilian Deaths

Army Social Scientist Set Afire in Afghanisgan

Afghan war to loom large for Obama

Gunmen kidnap French aid worker in Kabul

More Troops Are Nice, but More Intlligence Needed to Save Afghan War

As Taliban Overwhelm Police, Pakistanis Strike Back

A Warning, a Blast, a Fight to Save an Afghan Life

Rudderless in Kabul

Airstrikes kill 27 in Pakistan

Suicide bomber attacks Afghan ministry

Gunfire brings down U.S. helicopter in Afghanistan

Neighbours meet to discuss how to tackle Taliban violence

Murdered aid worker buried in Kabul

US Commandos Rescue American Hostage Near Kabul

If the articles linked to above don't get readers worried, then I suggest they take a gander at the PBS Frontline documentary titled The War Briefing. A Frontline news documentary unit was embedded with U.S. troops deployed at an isolated outpost on the Afghan frontier, and the film clearly brings home the fact that we are barely surviving in a holding operation in the country, we are not wining hearts and minds, we are not routing the Taliban and we are not capturing or killing Al Qaeda. The central government in Kabul has virtually no power to protect the people of Kabul or in the countryside, and the Taliban has regrouped and is intent on taking back control of the country.

Having lived through the war in Vietnam, observing the history of the Russians in Afghanistan, having lived through the war in Iraq, it gives one pause to contemplate just what kind of a quagmire are we getting ourselves in to in Afghanistan? And after viewing the entire Frontline documentary, one wonders when we will find our military forces drawn in to full scale hostilities in Pakistan.

I believe that president-elect Obama is an intelligent person, he is pragmatic, calculating and deliberate in his thought processes. I hope that some of the rhetoric that he used during the campaign was calculated to demonstrate his bonafides in terms of being a strong leader and commander-in-chief when necessary, but I am more hopeful that he will rely on his intelligence, his pragmatic and calculating mind and also listen to all voices that he can bring together who will present him with all facets of the issues, and only then will he and his staff and advisors and his subordinates think strategically and will act with all appropriate caution and deliberation, as they address the issues facing us in the region.

I am not ready for us to simply move our base of operations from Iraq to Afghanistan, I am not ready to see more of our blood and treasure expended because we have failed to learn from the past.