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OBAMA'S AFGHAN CONUNDRUM

It appears President Obama will release his basic, long-term plan for Afghanistan in a couple days.  It will probably include the addition of 30,000 to 35,000 military personnel.  It will likely call for President Karzai to make quick and abundant moves to clean up his government.  And it will make some sort of pledges to do more to rebuild the nation, provide more direct help for individuals, and stay the course.

Will this work?  Probably not.  We are still focused on highlighting our military might.  We entered Afghanistan primarily with a military objective.  Big mistake.  And it was compounded by sending inadequate resources and military personnel to carry out  the wrong objectives.  Further compounding the problem was the failure to capture or kill Osama bin Laden when we had him trapped at Torah Borah.  As was his penchant and that of his administrative staffs, President Bush had us strutting around Iraq and Afghanistan like a godsend military power.  This alienated the majority of people.  President Obama was left with a mess, a real mess.

Every military invasion and/or occupation in Afghanistan in the past has failed miserably.   Even the Moslems of the Ottoman Empire failed in Afghanistan.  Even the mighty Soviet Union.  And those two powers were geographically adjacent to Afghanistan; we are half-a-world away.  The British failed, the French failed in the Middle East.  Because of his ignorace of history, George W. Bush went into Afghanistan recklessly and inadequately to even carry out his wrong mission.  Afghanistan was ours for the taking, if we had entered in a more enlightened way.  We could have been there and out with our military.  Instead we will be bogged down for years, and no positive outcome probable.

We need a basic change in our approach.  We need to provide alternatives to the farmers raising poppies for drugs.  We need to help build roads, safe water facilities, schools, jobs, health care, train a national police force and military, rebuild war-torn buildings, encourage the groups already fighting against the Taliban throughout the nation, secure the Pakistan-Afghani border, develop other natural resources, etc.  But the military patriots at home, who never have to make any sacrifices, will yell for more military firepower.  Perhaps Congressman David Obey has it right: if these non-combatant patriots want to hide back home and never face any sacrifice themselves, let them pay for it.  The military tax-and-spend conservatives should therefore support increased taxes to pay for their misguided war.

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