Sunday, June 12, 2011
America can no longer afford the blood and treasure required to fight pointless wars in perpetuity
The jockeying for position on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq continues. Recently, departing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the U.S. military have tried to box the Obama administration into leaving as many troops in Afghanistan as possible. Gates argued that a rapid withdrawal would threaten the gains accrued from the surge of 30,000 troops. Gates opined, “I would try to maximize my combat capability as long as this process goes on—I think that’s a no-brainer.” He has argued for a modest withdrawal, which other sources have pegged at between 3,000 and 5,000 troops; in other words, only a token pullout to fulfill President Obama’s pledge to begin withdrawing troops this summer.
Pushing back are Vice President Joe Biden and the White House staff, including National Security Adviser Tom Donilon. Biden and Donilon were initially skeptical of the troop surge and are pushing for a more rapid withdrawal. Biden backs a speedier pullout but wants to keep a smaller force to perform counterterrorism missions and train the Afghan military.
More important, the Taliban has just moved to other parts of Afghanistan and is now attacking in the east, north, and west of Afghanistan. Since the U.S. has too few troops to conduct a counterinsurgency strategy in all parts of the country and the Afghan forces are too incompetent to fill the gaps, the wishful gains that the U.S. military sees in Afghanistan are largely illusory, as yet another prime fighting season begins. In the early 1980s, the U.S. encouraged a similar nationwide counterinsurgency strategy by the Salvadoran military, which also had too few troops to police the entire nation. The strategy failed because the insurgents just moved to areas that had fewer government troops. Baseball great Yogi Berra would say that Afghanistan is “déjà vu all over again.”
Read entire article here.