‘Presence in perpetuity’

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.



One response to “‘Presence in perpetuity’

  1. I always wonder what the Russian policy makers must be thinking of the US’s involvement in Afghanistan. I mean we are basically repeated the Soviet experience with the country, which incidentally was followed directly by the collapse of that country. They must dumbfounded by their luck to have the American military locked into two long and expensive wars in the Asia while Russia was left free to ride a world commdities boom to renewed power and influence. And its not like US policy makers weren’t aware of the historical parralles of the Afghan invasion, Condelizea Rice was is a Sovietologist for example. The US establishment clearly made a huge mistake witht he invasion and the simple truth is that there is no good way out now. The conflict has sparked instability in neighborhing Pakistan, a much more troubling situation. Afghanistan has a population of 28 million, Iraq 31 million. Pakistan on the other hand has 180 million. With that country destabilizing and violent and brazen attacks against the government on the rise, the US should realize that the South Asian can of worms they are opening will be much more difficult to deal with, if that is indeed even possible.

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