Saturday, March 28, 2009

Afghan President Praises Obama's Strategy

The strategy for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region has been mostly praised, though I haven't seen any real examination of the plan. Maybe that's for the Sunday papers. Read an outline of Obama's plan here.
WaPo: What distinguishes the president's plan -- and opens him to criticism from some liberals as well as conservatives -- is its recognition that U.S. goals cannot be achieved without a major effort to strengthen the economies and political institutions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bush administration tried to combat the al-Qaeda threat with limited numbers of U.S. and NATO troops, targeted strikes against militants, and broad, mostly ineffective, aid programs. It provided large sums of money to the Pakistani army, with few strings attached, in the hope that action would be taken against terrorist camps near the Afghan border. The strategy failed: The Taliban has only grown stronger, and both the Afghan and Pakistani governments are dangerously weak.

The lesson is that only a strategy that aims at protecting and winning over the populations where the enemy operates, and at strengthening the armies, judiciaries, and police and political institutions of Afghanistan, can reverse the momentum of the war and, eventually, allow a safe and honorable exit for U.S. and NATO troops. This means more soldiers, more civilian experts and much higher costs in the short term: Mr. Obama has approved a total of 21,000 more U.S. troops and several hundred additional civilians for Afghanistan, and yesterday he endorsed two pieces of legislation that would provide Pakistan with billions of dollars in nonmilitary aid as well as trade incentives for investment in the border areas. More is likely to be needed: U.S. commanders in Afghanistan hope to obtain another brigade of troops and a division headquarters in 2010, and to double the Afghan army again after the expansion now underway is completed in 2011. Mr. Obama should support those plans.
Afghan's president Hamid Karzai likes the plan (he ought to like it):
"He has our full support," Karzai told a news conference. "This was better than what we expected."

Obama unveiled the plan Friday which called for more troops, new legislation, improved troop training and added civilian expertise in the war in Afghanistan.

Obama said the plan would address what he called an "international security challenge of the highest order."

Obama said the "situation is increasingly perilous" in the region in and around Afghanistan, where the United States has been fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban for more than seven and a half years after it was attacked in New York and at the Pentagon. CNN
There are a few strays out there, the wingnuts, who aren't impressed. And others say Obama's continuing the Bush's strategy. 

I have no idea what this guy, Ralph Peters, is blabbering about. He obviously hasn't read the strategy and he appears to be a wingnut:
NY Post: DIRT doesn't matter. You don't defeat a trans-national terrorist organization by occupying medieval villages.

Yesterday, President Obama presented his "comprehensive new strategy" for Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was neither new, nor a strategy. Behind all the rhetoric, he just said, I'm sending more troops and more money.

Barack Obama? I heard Lyndon Johnson. The only LBJ touch that BHO lacked was the word "escalation."

The rhetoric was masterly. The content was drivel. He said, "The situation is increasingly perilous." Which situation? Why? For whom? Certainly, it's becoming more perilous for our troops as we escalate in support of the wrong policy.

Obama rightly identified the main threat to us as al Qaeda, which he wants to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat." Then why are his efforts overwhelmingly directed toward the Taliban?

I don't like the Talibs, but they didn't attack us on 9/11. Dirt poor, they just made the mistake of renting some fleabag motel rooms to al Qaeda. And they paid heavily for it.

The Taliban strategy is to make Afghanistan ungovernable for us. What if, instead of trying to claim worthless territory in the name of a corruption-poisoned Afghan government, we flipped the rules and just kept Afghanistan ungovernable for the Taliban?
The writer is more of a bomb them to smithereens guy. This instead is his solution:
Want a truly fresh strategy that would work? End all support of any kind to Pakistan. Close our embassy. Do what makes military sense and reduce our forces in Afghanistan to a level that can be supplied by air. And concentrate on destroying al Qaeda, not on "owning" village X. (Obama's approach just stinks of Vietnam.)

Imagine how different the situation would be if we weren't Pakistan's strategic prisoner and didn't stand between Islamabad and Delhi. What if the Pakistanis had to behave responsibly and stop sponsoring terror attacks against India -- or face India's wrath? Nuclear war? Pakistan would vanish, India would lick its wounds. And the Pakistanis know it.