The war in Afghanistan is in trouble. Polls show that more than 50% of Americans don’t think the war is worth fighting. That means that more than half of the American people do not recall the scenario that brought American and NATO forces into the ass-end of the planet in the first place. Afghanistan was a country in anarchy where the Taliban and Al Queda ran rampant, and their unchecked tyranny brought about the 911 plot as well as earlier Al Queda attacks. People have forgotten and/or prefer to ignore that reality.
Admiral Mullen has called the situation in Afghanistan “deteriorating” and in jeopardy. Others say the entire mission is in doubt, and that the forces being used are woefully inadequate. They are correct. The purpose of US and NATO forces is to hunt down Al Queda and provide security from their Taliban allies, but there are not enough forces for that mission.
This leaves President Obama an ugly choice-the kind of decision where he has historically sought compromise at the expense of decisiveness. He can either abandon the mission, pull out American forces, and live with the consequences of Afghanistan returning to its pre-OEF condition (a condition that directly led to the 911 attacks as well as others), or he can decide to fight the war by sending more troops, spending more money, and convincing more than half the American people that the price in blood and treasure is worth it.
Obama is a charismatic man. He is also head of the party that contains the bulk of the anti-war movement. If anyone can convince the anti-war movement to be silent, he can (and has), and if anyone can use charisma to inspire a nation to wage war…he can. However, he lacks the will, and his supporters lack the will, and half the American people have lost the will.
Can Obama revive that will to fight? Can he make the decisive decisions that war requires? Will he return from his quasi vacation and lead the nation at war, or will he spend more time talking about cash for clunkers, a stimulus that doesn’t stimulate for years, and healthcare bills that he’s never read?
Make no bones about it, there are huge domestic problems here at home, and he needs to focus a great deal of energy on them (thankfully, he has his army of Czars to help), but wars don’t wait. History can’t be paused.
Historically, it takes about 6 months from the moment a President decides to make a major military offensive until the forces are in place and the full effect of the offensive can begin. If President Obama were to decide on a major military change in course today, it wouldn’t start to take full effect until February or March 2010. However, that gives any potential Obama-offensive only 8 months to completely turn things around before the mid-term elections where Democrats will be held to account for their control of Congress, their failures, their broken campaign promises from 2006, and the state of the nation in 2010. Making matters worse is Afghanistan itself where almost nothing is militarily possible for either side during the winter months from October to March. The idea that a major, modern, American-military force can deploy into Afghanistan during the winter, and prepare for a Spring offensive is optimistic at best.
The enemy doesn’t sleep. The time for decision on Afghanistan is at hand: stay or go?
Fight or flight?
get more forces in, or get everyone out ala Yorktown, Dunkirk, or Saigon.