This is the moment….when Senator John Kerry, who served in Vietnam and currently chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday that he opposes sending more troops unless conditions on the ground improve in Afghanistan. I’d say that’s the basic gist of it. I think James Dobbins states it very well:
James Dobbins, who served as a special envoy to Afghanistan during the Bush administration and is now at the Rand Corp., said that Kerry had made many “sensible” points in the speech but that he found the conclusion unsatisfactory.
“The argument seems to be that we’re not going to send more troops until we start winning — which seems to me to be an inversion of the usual sequence,” he said.
This is the moment….when on the same day, Nobel Peace Laureate, President Obama, gave an address at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville, in part to offer a statement on the 14 Americans who lost their lives in two helicopter crashes in Afghanistan.
“I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm’s way. I won’t risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary,” Obama said to loud applause. “And if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt.”
The problem I have with this, is that we already have troops in theater in “harm’s way”, in what he claimed as a “war of necessity”; and his top general whom he had chosen is requesting reinforcements. And the dithering Democrat appears to want to vote “present”.
This is the moment, when Senator John Kerry says NATO allies and the UN need to step up and do more to support the efforts in Afghanistan. I agree; and so does NATO, which is backing Gen. McChrystal’s request for the counterinsurgency approach and troop increase:
America’s NATO allies signaled broad support Friday for an ambitious counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, adding to the momentum building for a substantial U.S. troop increase.
NATO defense ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, endorsed the strategy put forward by Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. and allied commander. The alliance rejected competing proposals to narrow the military mission to fighting the remnants of Al Qaeda.
This is the moment when Senator Kerry also said:
“Achieving our goals does not require us to build a flawless democracy, defeat the Taliban in every corner of the country, or create a modern economy-what we’re talking about is “good-enough” governance, basic sustainable economic development, and Afghan security forces capable enough that we can drawdown our forces,”
Can anyone say “duh”? Who has ever said we were attempting to build a western-style democracy that looks like our own? Or that we would spend blood and treasure on Afghanistan until its opium fields were magically transformed into pink daffodils, fuzzy bunnies, and cotton candy clouds floating overhead?
“given the balance of our strategic interests, it should give serious pause to military and civilian strategists alike that the current balance of our expenditure between Afghanistan, where there is virtually no Al Qaeda, and Pakistan, where there is, tallies thirty-to-one.”
Here’s failed presidential candidate John ” I served in Vietnam” Kerry, September 14, 2006 at Howard University:
The central front in the war on terror is still in Afghanistan, but this Administration treats it like a sideshow. When did denying al Qaeda a terrorist stronghold in Afghanistan stop being an urgent American priority? How did we end up with seven times more troops in Iraq – which even the Administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11 – than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free? Why is the Administration sending thousands more American troops into the crossfire of a civil war in Iraq but we can’t find any more troops to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan?
With Pakistan in the midst of cleaning out the hornets nest of Taliban fighters in southern Waziristan, I’d say now would be an ideal time for sending more troops to deny the Taliban any safe havens into Afghanistan and to send out a message that America is resolute in its commitment to see things through.
In regards to the claim of no al Qaeda in Afghanistan, after making big campaign issues out of Afghanistan as being “the good and necessary war” that we had to return to, there might be a minimal al Qaeda footprint there today; but should the Taliban regain power in Afghanistan, is there really any question that the Taliban today is inextricably linked to al Qaeda, and wouldn’t provide it safe haven and continued alliance?
While the Afghan Taliban share many of al-Qaida’s violent goals, including the defeat of the Kabul government, Barrett said, they are more regionally focused and do not hold the same global jihadist views.
Some U.S. military and intelligence officials, however, warn against underestimating the relationship between al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban.
While the Taliban and al-Qaida may have differences, senior counterterrorism officials say that al-Qaida still has strong historical ties to Mullah Omar and that is not likely to go away. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.
Should we cut deals with irreconcilables?
President Barack Obama’s review of strategy in Afghanistan means America will end up making a deal with the Taliban, and tolerating warlords, to end the fighting.
“Moderate Taliban” is rather oxymoronic, isn’t it? And wasn’t it the moment of the third presidential debate in 2004 that John frickin’ Kerry said the following:
When the president had an opportunity to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, he took his focus off of them, outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, and Osama bin Laden escaped.
So it wasn’t ok to do business with Afghan warlords then, but today it’s a practical solution?
The Taliban may not have their sights set on waging a global jihad war; but they are clearly one of those who “If they’re not with us, they’re with the terrorists”. An al Qaeda without safe haven is an al Qaeda made impotent.
Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio also warn against the narrower approach that seeks to draw distinctions between al Qaeda and its allies:
if the US and its coalition partners prevent the Taliban and its allies from returning to power in Afghanistan, then this will necessarily weaken al Qaeda’s allies and, in turn, al Qaeda itself. In the military’s view, al Qaeda is not a standalone problem but instead one head of several on a jihadist hydra.
In the piece below, we take a look at the insurgency in Afghanistan more closely – from al Qaeda’s perspective. We do not think that a shift to a predominately counterterrorism campaign utilizing airstrikes and the like is sufficient to beat back the threat to America’s interests. In fact, we argue that such thinking is rooted in a dangerous ignorance of al Qaeda and our terrorist enemies. Al Qaeda was never a self-contained problem that could be defeated by neutralizing select individuals – even though capturing or killing senior al Qaeda members surely does substantially weaken the network.
Instead, Osama bin Laden and his cohorts deliberately fashioned their organization to be the tip of a much longer jihadist spear.
The previous administration has been criticized by the current one for “taking its eyes off the ball” and diverting resources to Iraq “which didn’t attack us” and failing to catch bin Laden.
The current administration can be criticized for reneging on its campaign warhawk stance in a desire to divert resources from Afghanistan to pursue funding and public support for its domestic agenda of “nation rebuilding”. Shoveling socialism down the throat of “that region of the world” that didn’t attack us and had nothing to do with 9/11. As Steve Schippert puts it:
Though I’ve been screaming this in my own mind for weeks and weeks, actually months, maybe I ahve not said it out loud enough. Because it has a 95% probability of accuracy, with a 5% chance pub pressuer can change Obama’s mind —
We will not see an Afghan Surge (TM) for one simple, yet critical, reason. Do you all recall, post-stimulus, the Obama budget forcasts that were eventually blown out of the water by both the CBO and reality? Do you remember whaere most of the budgetary “savings” came from?
That’s right, a draw down in Iraq. Merely shifting these resources in number and cost to Afghanistan will have an even more devastating impact on the already laughable Obama budget projections, and materialize right in the heat of 2010 election cycles. Deficit beyond imagination and so far off Obama forecasts as to appear wholly mindless. the 2010 elections would be an even hotter Hell to pay for Dems supporting the O nonsense.
This was the reality that I saw from the beginning: That Afghanistan will be starved of resources rather than fed them as Candidate Obama assured in his pledges to fight “the real war” in Afghanistan.
It is domestic budget – NOT intellectually considered counterinsurgency v. counterterrorism strategies – which will dictate how this White House conducts the war in Afghanistan.
The trick for them is how to sell not shifting resources from Iraq to Afghanistan as brilliance rather than the domestic policy trickery that it really is.
Our enemies can take heart: This President and his team have greater and more aggressive designs on the American society and its free market-based economy than on them, the jihadists who would slit our throats quite literally given opportunity.
And this budget elephant in the Situation Room is what makes me so angry when folks consider Biden/Levin/Kerry options as intellectually vetted counterterrorism alternatives.
Bull. Look at the budget. Someone go back to spring ’09 and dig up the Iraq Drawdown accounting in O’s budget as the source for freed funds. Fighting the enemy in Afghanistan? It was bullshit on the campaign trail, and its bullshit now. Iraq Drawdown funds (created or saved) were never – EVER – accounted for as shifting to another theater of war, “real” or imagined. It was shifted to redistribution schemes here at home.
Go ahead. Prove me wrong. Please. Someone.
For John Kerry, the 2004 presidential candidate who served in Vietnam, he has taken all the wrong lessons he learned from that conflict, and is trying to apply them to this conflict. John Kerry’s Afghanistan plan is the same as his Vietnam plan.
For 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate, President Obama, Afghanistan is a diversion; a distraction. I don’t think there’s any question that Democrats would love nothing better than to return us back to the glory days when Overseas Contingency Operations were largely a law enforcement issue, and we suffered the drip, drip, drip of “small-scale” terror attacks.
This is the moment…