After years of denial and negligence, President Bush and his aides are finally waking up to the desperate mess they’ve made in Afghanistan. They have little choice, since the alarms are coming from all corners.The Big Lie is that the “downward spiral” (NYT’s words) in Afghanistan is due to the Bush administration’s distraction in Iraq. That is a lie. The truth is that in 2005 NATO took over the Afghanistan Operation in the shape of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force).
In a rare moment of agreement, America’s 16 intelligence agencies are warning that Afghanistan is on a dangerous “downward spiral.” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is publicly predicting that next year will be an even “tougher year.”
Without pumping out 3,000 words and relying that most of you are regular readers and therefore know the background – the problem is that NATO as an alliance culminated in Afghanistan about 10 months ago. NATO simply could not generate the maneuver forces that it needed to create the safe and secure environment. Some nations like the Dutch and Canadians did what the entire alliance membership should have done. Smaller nations like Denmark, and Estonia did likewise. Britain and the USA did what they always do. Poland, Australia, and Romania likewise can hold their head high – France as well has turned a bit into the wind and should be thanked for it..
Germany, Italy, Spain – their politicians just will not let their armed forces do what needs to be done – and many of their senior uniformed and civilian leadership think this is some POL/MIL discussion group to talk about what is and is not “Comprehensive” and which comes first – the chicken or the egg – and not a war going on and a failed state that needs to be brought up. Amazing, because most of NATO is European – and it is Europe that is the next trench line in the war if the front line in Afghanistan is lost. At least we with a little help from a few friends held the Iraqi trench line.
Others think that you can put 4 F-16 or a C-130 in and say you have done your bit. No. No credit.
The Big Lie is well outlined by this NYT article and others like it that give the impression that if Obama or McCain are elected that all of a sudden they will clap their hands three times and troops will immediately start moving from the USA to AFG. Let me just say this – this stuff takes months to years to take place. If you think that plans aren’t already in play, then you need to read what SECDEF Gates has been saying for months.
Any politician who says “I will deploy …” really mean that “I will not stop the planned deployment …. ” You can also see in this article a rash desire to have the NYT’s “retreat first – defeat later” policy of a reckless retreat from Iraq. Especially now that victory’s course is well set – their thoughts are madness.
For those multi-lateral fundamentalists out there, a question: what is going well in AFG right now and what is not? Going well is Counter Terrorism and development of the Afghan National Army – responsibilities of the USA and Coalition. What is going poorly? Safe and Secure Environment and Police Training – responsibilities of NATO. What is already in motion is a movement by the USA to respond to what is now seen as NATO’s 4QCY07 culmination in AFG. The USA is, like I said earlier this year – taking back the keys. SECDEF Gates has warned the Alliance publicly.
He and the President have already signaled that the US is heading to do what other’s won’t and can’t.
The British will stay with us – but the other two major fighters - the Dutch and the Canadians are playing the Elector of Bavaria and leaving the field. I honor their commitment and sacrifice to this point – but the job is not done and they are leaving. That is sad.
In the long run, the USA and the UK will create the safe and secure environment with what few allies remain. The good stuff in Reconstruction, Development, and Governance will then follow. It has to.
On the US side of the house the question is - which candidate has the best instincts from the Surge to Georgia – and is comfortable enough with National Security issues and the uniformed leadership to hold their own in the clash of ideas and agendas that is the nature of the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom axis? I know the answer – do you?
Imagine what would have happened to Iraq if we had let it be run internationally like Afghanistan was - and how the 2004 candidate John Kerry wanted.
Oh, he is to the right politically from Obama. OBTW.