Answering the wrong question can be worse than getting the wrong answer to the right question.
When it comes to Afghanistan, the question isn’t a matter of how many U.S. troops are necessary to “win,” which has been the current debate in Washington.
It isn’t a matter of 10,000, 20,00o or 40,000 more. The question is focus; the answer is more acute than simply counterinsurgency.
As one of Frontline’s many commentators said, Afghanistan is currently a “presence in perpetuity.”
Instead of battles against the mildly terrorist threat in the Taliban, a corrupt Afghan government and a complicate Pakistani government, the focus needs to be small highly-skilled American units seeking out al Qaeda. (The current focus saw both a Northeastern Minnesota soldier and marine killed last week.)
As this war quickly becomes the longest the U.S. has ever fought, it’s increasingly obvious that the current blanket approach that momentarily displaces the relatively benign Taliban has not worked.
The U.S. military and government must realize that the majority of Taliban forces are not going to bring terrorism to U.S. Once that happens, the U.S. can answer the right question: What must be done to quell the most radical Taliban, the ones with terroristic intents and means, and — most importantly — al Qaeda?
Change is not what Obama calles the “necessary war” in Afghanistan. Change is an approach that brings the majority of our soldiers home and focuses on the worst perpetrators in Afghanistan and Pakistan.