To understand the situation in Afghanistan you have to remember that this country is very far behind the rest of the world in terms of civilization. That may sound strange in a this modern era of cell phones and Face Book pages but this truly is a country that time forgot. There hasn’t been a central government of any consequence in Afghanistan’s history. Tribalism rules the country side. The goal to build up a stable pro-western government is a daunting task.
President Obama pronounced during his campaign that Afghanistan was the important war. We were spending too much time, and resources on a failing Iraq. He claimed he would turn his attention to the important war which had been forgotten in Afghanistan.
The President once in office removed the commander in Afghanistan and installed General McCrystal. General McCrystal was the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and had been credited with much of the success of many direct action operations that had killed or captured many of the most wanted in Iraq. A reasonable pick one would assume. General McCrystal was tasked with developing a plan / report for Afghanistan. The general did just that. The report leaked to the media stated the need for at least 40,000 more troops and that failure was likely in the event they weren’t sent.
In a counter insurgency the protection of the populace is vital. We witnessed in the past ISAF units would run the Taliban from a village only to leave and have the Taliban return and bring with it more death and torture to the locals. This doesn’t leave them many choices in who they must support. Common sense tells us that if we don’t protect the populace we will not gain their support. Without their support failure in a counter insurgency is inevitable.
The problem is that after eight years of war the American people have grown weary. The constant drumbeat of war and how we will only lose in Iraq and Afghanistan has taken a toll. While many still find Afghanistan important there are also many who simply wish to bring our troops home and to hell with the place.
There is a belief that even with our support Afghanistan cannot sustain itself, that they will be forever in our care. This is a reasonable fear. The Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) have not shown themselves to be nearly ready enough to take on the Taliban or local criminals at this time.
The President appears to be holding off on making the decision to send troops. I’m sure the fact that his left base wants us out and probably assumed that his Afghanistan position was mostly politics. The election is over now and a decision must be made. Will we support Afghanistan or cut and run?
This is why the Presidency is so important. It’s not just about who can raise the most money, or who gives the most eloquent speeches. At times it’s about real decisions that need to be made in a timely manner. Life and death truly hangs on these decisions.
The United States must have a plan, a strategy and now is a bit late to be deciding what that policy is going to be. While I may prefer one concept over another but I’ll support either. let’s get on with making the call and moving forward before our troops truly wonder what the hell they are doing in this desolate place.