Sunday, March 29, 2009

More War?

As Washington continues it's drumbeat for yet more war in Afghanistan, I really wish the people in charge would step back for a minute and examine what it is we are doing there and whether success is even possible.

This week President Obama announced that we will be sending more American soldiers in to Afghanistan. It's unclear exactly what the goal of these troop increases are though. On the one hand we are hearing that they will aide in training Afghan security forces. On the other hand Obama is making statements like these:

"The focus over the last seven years I think has been lost," Obama said. "What we want to do is to refocus attention on al Qaeda. We are going to root out their networks, their bases. We are going to make sure that they cannot attack U.S. citizens, U.S. soil, U.S. interests, and our allies' interests around the world."

That sounds like the troops will be used for a hot war with al Qaeda.

Recent polling shows that Americans are wary of more war in Afghanistan. For good reason.

While training Afghan security forces seems like a good idea, didn't we just go through this same debacle in Iraq. Month after month we were told Iraqi security forces would be ready to secure Iraq soon, and still thousands of American are there for security purposes. Why do we assume Afghanistan will end any better?

On the al Qaeda front, finding and eliminating al Qaeda operatives is a worthwhile goal, but do we need more troops to do it? Given that al Qaeda is an organization without borders, it seems unlikely that huge numbers of ground troops in Afghanistan are going to eliminate the problem. Bin Laden and company will just set up camp somewhere else. Wouldn't use of intelligence and highly trained special forces for localized operations against terrorists be more effective. Particularly in light of the fact that invasions of sovereign middle eastern countries may be doing more to grow al Qaeda than anything else we are doing.

We should be cognizant of history's lessons of war in Afghanistan. The British and Soviets found out the hard way that Afghanistan may be where empires go to die. Do we want to follow route?

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