Obama Approaches Moment Of Truth In Afghanistan
Now Winning: U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Warns of
Rising Casualties." Thus ran the startling headline on the front-page of
The Wall Street
Journal. The lead paragraph ran thus:
"The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American
commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its
strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing
the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the
volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency`s
Source for the story: Gen.
Stanley McChrystal himself.
The general`s spokesman in Kabul
swift to separate him from that headline and lead.
They "go too far," he said: The general does not believe the Taliban are
"gaining the upper hand."
Nevertheless, in the eighth year of
America`s war, the newly arrived field commander
concedes that U.S. casualties, now at record levels,
will continue to be high or go higher, and that our
primary mission is no longer to run down and kill
Taliban but to defend the Afghan population.
What went wrong?
Though U.S. force levels are higher
than ever, the U.S. military situation is worse than
ever. Though President Karzai is expected to win
re-election, he is regarded as the ineffectual head of a
corrupt regime. Though we have trained an Afghan army
and police force of 220,000, twice that number are now
needed. The Taliban are operating not only in the east,
but in the north and west, and are taking control of the
capital of the south, Kandahar.
NATO`s response to Obama`s request
for more troops has been pathetic.
Europeans want to draw down the
troops already sent. And Western opinion has soured on
poll commissioned by
found 52 percent of Britons wanting to pull out
and 58 percent believing the war is
U.S. polls, too, have turned upside
A CBS-New York Times survey in late
July found 33 percent saying the war was going well and
57 percent saying it was going badly or very badly. In a
CNN poll in early August, Americans, by 54 percent to 41
percent, said they oppose the Afghan war that almost all
Americans favored after 9-11 and Obama said in 2008 was
the right war for America to fight.
The president is now approaching a
decision that may prove as fateful for him and his
country as was the one made by Lyndon Johnson to send
the Marines ashore at Da Nang in December 1965.
Obama confronts a two-part
If, after eight years of fighting,
the Taliban is stronger, more capable and closer to
victory than it has ever been, what will it cost in
additional U.S. troops, casualties, years and billions
to turn this around? And what is so vital to us in that
wilderness land worth another eight years of fighting,
bleeding and dying, other than averting the humiliation
of another American defeat?
From Secretary Gates to
Gen. Petraeus, U.S. military and political leaders
have been unanimous that the Afghan war does not lend
itself to a military victory. Unfortunately, the Taliban
does seem to believe in a military victory and triumphal
return to power, and imposing upon the United States the
same kind of defeat their fathers imposed upon the
Whatever we may say of them,
Taliban fighters have shown a greater willingness to die
for a country free of us Americans than our Afghan
allies have shown to die for the future we Americans
envision for them.
In days, McChrystal is to provide
the president with an assessment of what will be
required for America to prevail.
Almost surely, the general`s answer
will be that success will require thousands more U.S.
troops, billions more dollars, many more years of
casualties. And if Obama yet believes this is a war of
necessity we cannot lose, and he must soldier on, his
decision will sunder his party and country, and put at
risk his presidency.
If he refuses to deepen the U.S.
commitment, it is hard to see how the United States can
avoid what is at best a bloody stalemate.
But if he chooses to cut America`s
losses and get out, Obama risks a strategic debacle that
will have our enemies rejoicing and open him up to the
charge that he, the first African-American president,
lost the war that America began as retribution for 9-11
and fought to prevent a second 9-11.
Had we gone into Afghanistan in
2001, knocked over the Taliban, driven out al-Qaida and
departed, we would not be facing what we do today.
But we were seduced by the prospect
of converting a
backward tribal nation of 25 million, which has
resisted every empire to set foot on its inhospitable
soil, into a shining new democracy that would be a model
for the Islamic world.
Now, whatever Obama decides, we
shall pay a hellish price for the hubris of the
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to VDARE.COM readers;
his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its
Empire and the West Lost the World,
Paul Craig Roberts.