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November 12, 2009
Fighting fire with fire in America’s Afghan quagmire

U.S. soldiers at a ceremony recognizing bravery in Afghanistan. Photo: Flickr user USarmyafrica

As President Obama considers his options in Afghanistan, a strong voice of dissent has emerged challenging the American commander in Afghanistan’s call for another 40,000 troops.

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, says that no more than 15,000 additional forces should be committed — mostly to train the Afghan army. Meanwhile, NATO allies are also pledging to send more troops.

Should the United States commit any more troops to the war in Afghanistan?

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53 comments

#53

To GHHering #41: First: Does “World court” exist? or you mean UN, but UN is brunch of Arab Leage. Second: You should convince Americans to give Israeli good example: Texas or California “to be returned to their rightful owners”,- Mexico.
Third: this blog about US policy in Afghanistan??

#52

RE “We have a moral responsibility to not let the Taliban take over!”

If we were to multiply that thinking across the 40 odd warring conflicts throughout the world, we’d be playing self-righteous cop handling everyone else’s business to our demise – which we attempt to do anyway, right?

Every round fired at a Palestinian has “Made in USA” stamped on it and is paid for by US citizens, thus making each of us complicit in that war. Too, our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq did exactly what was predicted in terms of fostering a religious war with Islam that we cannot “win” and has no more intelligence and integrity to it than the Crusades. Time to stop supplying weapons to and involving ourselves in the affairs of Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine. Let them work out their own governments. We’ve enough weaponry to extinct the world as it is, and have far more important issues at home to attend to than “playing war” throughout the world.

As an ex-Marine and former school teacher, I’m “fed-up” with the male/image-based notion that “we are #1.” First, it’s not true any longer on numerous levels, including were our lenders to call in their chips. For another, that mindless pursuit hurts our children, our spirits, and separates us as humanity.

The greatest thing we can do, I believe, is to commit to the greater good of who we are vs seek to endlessly increase our muscle in pursuit of fear … likely for the real purpose of controlling and dominating another nation’s natural resources. Doesn’t that spell “colonialism”? Hmmm … seems that’s our western European heritage which didn’t work in the last millenium any more than it is now.

#51

Those who want to punish the 9/11 terrorist only make them laugh when we send our treasure over there to be wasted in the dust – how stupid our vengence has made us. The Conservative Right in the US is Osama’s best allies – they lead us to our distruction. Time to put Bush and others in jail and stop the madness.

#50

As long as Israel disregards the condemnation by the World Courts for continuing illegal occupation of and building on territories not their own, there will never be peace between Israel and the Arab countries. The illegality of continued building on such lands MUST stop and such lands be returned to their rightful owners!

#49

Pack it up,and bring them home !! We are trying now to win the hearts,and minds of the people there, just like in Vietnam,and have to realise those afgans do not approve of a foreign army occupying them, and killing innocent people there !The only ones who will gain are the war profiteers !!!

#48

The old argument that ‘if we don’t stop them over there, they will come here’ is a presumption. Foreign troops had better get out of Pakistan ASAP. They can be more useful in America, protecting us here now, instead of bleeding to death over there.

#47

We should get out now. With Karsai more or less pulling our strings and with the feeling that he knows that he has us stuck in the mud, we need to get out now. Karsai is a crook, nothing he says makes sense. The people of Afghanistan see this guy for what he is and see the US as propping up an illegitimate government. We are wasting the lives of our precious young people and money that we need here at home. The people in the middle east will never accept democracy as we know it and they don’t want us over there telling them to change which is in direct conflict with their religion and culture. We hear that the Russians did not win either – but the old Soviet Union had a different goal – a water port for it’s Navy. We have went in their supposedly to find Bin Laden and that should have been our goal and once we saw the end did not justify the means to get there – we should have drawn down. I can’t believe that we the American People allowed Bush and Cheney to lie to us massively to get us into Iraq. Saddam Hussein was a terrible – but not as terrible as the Taliban or Al Quid a – so here we destabilized the entire middle east and now we have a true concern for the oil fields to run our industrial complex – thanks in part to the American Run Oil Companies who assisted in getting us into this quagmire – when will we ever learn – it seems like never! Little George Bush’s Coalition of the Willing – turns out to be just the US and Britain. And now Britain is getting smart and reducing it’s presence. Nato is sending in it’s marching band called military and they have as much if not more to lose that the US – so where are they. Pull out now and “hopefully learn a lesson”. I blame the Republican party and the Democratic party here in the US. The Republican parts is for big business (oil companies) and the Democratic Party did not have enough guts to stand their ground and ran for the political hides – so here we are in a total mess! The political machine we need to overhaul is not Iraq nor Afghanistan – but in Washington DC. Jim @ USA

#46

As an Anti-Viet Nam War activist I can’t believe I am saying this: We can’t leave now! The point missed by all is that our war oriented actions have been a dream come true for the “terrorist”, because we have lost so much and continue to loose. However, we have some moral responsibilty to not let the Taliban take over. Bottom line: we loose, we loose, we loose. The only way to win is a 180 degree change in policy and free Palestine – that is a mind bender (and delusion solution!)

#45

Are you listening, Barack? BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW! DON’T BE SEDUCED BY THE MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL MINDSET. LOOK AT YOUR WIFE, CHILDREN AND ALL THE FAMILIES EVERYWHERE – AND COMMIT YOURSELF AND THIS NATION TO STOPPING THE WAR-MONGERING.

#44

Hell no! We should get out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan just as we got out of Vietnam. And we should STOP messing around with other people’s governments, overtly and covertly. The US’s military spending for 2008 was $1.473 trillion, and our expenditures account for 48% of all military spending worldwide. It’s insane nonsense derived from male insecurity at systemic levels. And we have the audacity to call ourselves “the greatest nation in the world and someone else terrorists”? We need to get honest, admit we screwed up, and set in motion a truth commission that will hold accountable all those who started this mess including as Nicholas Rockefeller informed the late filmaker Aaron Russo 11 months prior to 9/11 “an event that would have us looking for Osama Bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan, an invasion of Iraq, and the start of a bogus war on terror. Short of this, we have no integrity and are on a path to the “fall” of the American empire. Can’t you feel it?

#43

No, the US should not send more soldiers to Afghanistan. We should end our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as possible.

#42

I am sure this war will not end and america will not get win on this even if they sent 1000,000 more troops you just wasting your money and your people, american people need this money cause they don’t have jobs.

#41

No more troops should be sent, and those deployed there? Bring’em home!!!!!!!!!!!! There is ZERO chance that the corruption in Afghanistan can be managed. It is systemic, has existed for generations and will continue to exist.

#40

End all occupation now. Occupation is not who we claim we are, can not bring democracy anywhere else, and rightfully turns the world against us.

#39

Wow, after just watching WorldFocus tonight, I am more than amazed at Karzai’s brazeness and defiance that the US is “stuck” with him whether we like it our not. I think he’s a con man and haven’t liked him at all. He is not going to clean up the corruption, being the kingpin himself. I say bring our troops home and forget the whole “democracy to Afganistan.” Not going to happen. Plus, I don’t think the tribes even want a democracy. Otherwise, the Afganis would be turning taliban in by the dozens, by the hundreds. The fact that they hide them and protect them tells all. They are in every village and play dumb.

We have plenty of infrastructure work to be done in the US and the NATO countries have the same in theirs. The money saved from warring would indeed pay off our debt. I read somewhere that it costs like a billion dollars per day for us to be in Afganistan!!! In a few years, we’d have no national debt, our young men would here at home contributing to our economic stability and with their wives and children. And for the women in the miltary, they’d be here contributing to the economy of our country and home with their husbands and family. All NATO and UN troops should pull out too. It’s over, over there.

In the same vane as Reagan said to Russia “Bring that wall down” I ask Obama with the same urgency bring our troops home!!!

I think it’s time the Pakistan army be responsible for themselves too. They’ve stood by watching our guys die in their country, guns in hand and doing nothing to protect anyone or anything. Only recently have they entered the frey and are actually helping. I saw on an international news program last night, that a proposal for that situation is US troops in Pakistan surrounding Pakistan’s nuclear areas and protecting them if the taliban start to infultrate into the regions. Otherwise, Pakistan is to take care of themselves too.

I have a question, where do these countries get off at having us fight all their battles??? If they all want to keep fighting their thousands year tribal warfar with each other, fine, the US and the other forces get out now and leave them to it. If they all kill and blow themselves up enough, maybe one day, someone — one of THEM — will say enough is enough and they will stop the warring themselves. Their peace can only come from themselves.

#38

The total military-industrial complex MUST be downsized. Put the money into: 1) CIA, FBI, Coast Guard, and police departments at all levels to improve security. 2) Debt reduction. 3) Health Care. 4) Infastructure including public transportation.

The military should be asked what problems need to be solved – not how to solve them. After the Pres decides what problems he wants solved, he goes to the military and says solves them. The military might return to our Pres and say can’t, OK we iterate. But if you ask the military how to solve a problem, why be surprised when they say the solution involves the military?

How come we insist on knowing the cost of health care but almost no one notes we CANNOT afford the wars in which we are engaged? Today on C-SPAN, Gen. Petraeus said that the U.S. military budget is more than the rest of the world combined. Are we insane?

Eisenhower, a ***** general, Republican president, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted
influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for
the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of
this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for
granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the
huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so
that security and liberty may prosper together.”

#37

Bring the troops home. Focus on domestic issues.

#36

War is a State Department failure.

#35

Leave the troops and spill blood upon the hard ground of a landscape of strategic puzzles.
Remove them and spill many answers to even more dilemmas all over a long harsh terrain.

#34

It is not obvious that a take-over of Afghanistan by the insurgents would change the terrorist threat to us. After all, Afghanistan is not a high-tech country where terrorists can acquire very dangerous techniques. The 9/11 terrorists got their expertise right here. There is no doubt that our heavy “foot-print” does increase the recruiting effort of the insurgents not only in Afghanistan but also in nearby areas such as Pakistan. It might be much more prudent to have a containment policy as we had for decades against the Soviet Union and just have the necessary troops to protect the population centers. This should not require any increase in the troop level.

#33

Unless one can find a way to “translate” or “abstract” meanings from the Languages of Cross-Cultural Thoughts which ever fall into all that is written across the sweeping Commentary of our Ancestrally Identified Lives collectively titled “Ocean of Reasoning”…
what Hope is there that the Collective Understanding or the Fundamental Wisdom of The Middle Way will comprehend all the Aspects that are now permeating the (Mind-) Ground where hard Terrain creates Images of Inner Maps for defining the Coordinates by which the one may create Understood Answers where Dilemmas speak, otherwise, in Parables to the Human Heart?

#32

no,we should not send more troops. we should withdraw all the troops because many american will lose their lives for these people who are living at stone age.the arguments about terrosim may spread to pakistan. pakistan will collapse because its economic problem,corruption and nature of islam. we should let them fight each other due to their mentallity.

#31

We should not only not send any more troops in, we should get out as soon as possible. We are wasting our human and physical treasure. Afghanistan is not a country in the normal sense, but a group of tribes. Our desire to hold it so that we can eventually build a pipeline across it for oil is a bad idea. Study history, long ago and recent; the Soviets lost their war there and the British didn’t do much better a couple hundred years ago.
Even building an Afghan Army will not work, either. They are tribes and will continue to live their way. Read history.

#30

Remember:”Change you can believe in.” Hillary was painted as a hawk because she was not as unequivocal as Barack on getting the American troops back home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, Barack has unfortunately painted himself in a corner. If he sends more troops, he disappoints his anti-war supporters and if he doesn’t, he will be accused of dithering on foreign policy/national security issues. All well-wishers of the Obama Administration are of the view that the US must not withdraw precipitously from the Afghan theater and if it stays there, it must do it in strength. The dilemma of having increased military presence is this: In the absence of committed loyal Afghani forces, both military and civil, the American ammunition end up being in the hands of the hostile forces. They regroup themselves and launch attacks on the American forces. The American forces come back with greater force, drone/air attacks which sometimes bomb innocent rural civilians. This further fuels the anti-American sentiments. And the Taliban gains grounds. Politicians like Karzai, who speak from both sides of their mouth, do not miss any opportunity to take advantage of the situation. For the U.S.A, there is a moral issue: should the U.S. commit their men and women and tax/loan money to support a government that is known to be indulging in pilferage and passing on the resources to the enemies?
In the end, running away from the Af-Pak theater is not an option. The U.S.A. will have to run the course until the region stabilizes. But, the policy makers will have to make sure that the Americans win the hearts and minds of the Afghans, make big investments in infrastructure, rule of law and education (without dishonoring the rightful cultural sensibilities). Hardware solution has its limits. It has to be backed up adequately by what many call’software’ approach. I bet there are many in Obama’s Administration who are saying just that.

Binoy Shanker Prasad

#29

I agree with ambassador Karl Eikenberry. We should train Afghan troops to take over the security of their own country.

#28

The U.S. is subject to terrorism even if we leave Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other Muslim country, so our continued presence there is only costing us lives and money for no reason. How much guts it would take for Obama to say we are getting out of there! Generals are generals to conduct war, not peace, and they would be dismayed, but they would have to respect the wishes of their commander-in-chief.

#27

Is Obama listening to us? If so, he won’t go to an war arena where we are not wanted and can not win. McCrystal is a hammer and all of Afghanistan is a nail. Use economics, use nation building… lots of choices that have some (however slight) chance of succeeding… but NOT war. We can not win in Afghanistan. Be out in two months.

#26

i can’t think of a WORSE idea than sending more troops to afghanistan. for kryst’s sake at least explain WHY we are there. if the answer is to bring the opium crop home to mollify 15MILLION unemployed people, that’s about the only valid reason i can think of. have “we” even created 5,000 jobs since the new year?
when we BEGIN to manage this country w/ a modicum of success, then, perhaps we could begin looking at managing aspects of other countries.

#25

All Nato forces should leave Afghanistan right now. If the world wants the UN there, then UN troops can go. The Afghans have always known how to fight. They beat the British Empire and the Russians and now the USA along with our NATO allies. “Training” them would be a farce. The Taliban would take over the men we “train” and take our military supplies just like they are doing now. We are pouring soldiers and supplies down the drain. The Taliban and their allies are an attitude and a mind-set. They are not an enemy in the usual sense. It is like trying to fight shadows. We should get out now.

#24

Haven’t we done enough damage? How much more destruction must there be? Just more muck and mire, Vietnam style. Out, out, out!

#23

Afganistan, like Iraq is more than the new American Vietnam. The invasion of Iraq and Afganistan was undertaken for the sole benefit of multinational oil corporations who now have easy access to former Northern Iraqi oilfields in the newly created region of ‘Greater Kurdistan’. The second long-term goal is to extend American Hegmony over the entire Caspian Sea Basin Region which contains the largest and mostly un-tapped Oil and Gas reserves in the region which is not under the control of OPEC. Look at a map and see that Iran is the next logical target in this thinly veiled ongoing oil war which is not worth any more young American lives and troops sent to the region. Turkey should also be ashamed they take bribes from America to be the conduit for this plundered oil for the benefit of Western Europe.

#22

mY IMMEDIATE RESPONSE WOULD BE TO NOT SEND ANY MORE TROOPS. HOWEVER PRES. OBAMA IS LOOKING AT MORE THAN JUST ONE THING AND I DOUBT HE WILL BE SENDING MORE TROOPS WITHOUT UNLESS ALL HIS RESERVATIONS HAVE BEEN MET. FOR INSTANCE OTHER NATO COUNTRIES MUST SEND MORE TROOPS ALSO, OR KARZAI DEMONSTRATES CRACKING DOWN SERIOUSLY ON CORRUPTION, OR EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT THE AFGANISTAN PEOPLE WANT US THERE.

#21

Get out, Get out!!!!! This is why I voted for Barack O’bama! He is being pressured by the Big Money Military Complex. He should not cave in!!!!!!! I would be so disappointed.

#20

It is time to stop dithering and sh*t or get off the pot!

#19

We should use localized nuclear weapons on concentrated areas with they enemy and it’s
sympathizers in it. If we are not prepaired
to do this modern day Shermans march to the
sea,then we have no business there!

#18

Bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Stop the killing. These are tribal type countries and no amount of democracy will change them.

#17

Considering Karsai’s attitude, of course, no more of America’s finest sent there, and bring home the troops there. Our Generals can give discipline training and civics lessons to our school children on appreciating our Constitution and the responsibilities of freedom; they might teach our Congress also.

#16

I feel we cannot win the conflict in Afghanistan and continuing to feed military personnel into this war is pointless. I would suggest we announce a schedule of with drawl and concentrate upon training afghans to assume control of their destiny.

#15

Russians left and we should leave as soon as possible. The tribal wars have been going on there for CENTURIES .Maybe, one day they’ll just get tired of fighting. Let them be..

#14

At this point, we cannot abruptly abandon this fight in Afghanistan. We cannot because it would put our country’s security at greater risk, and we cannot because to abandon the greater majority of Afghani people can almost amount to a “war-crime” (Taliban brutality). Besides, it was W’s fault for diverting our attention away (when we had more of a chance) to Iraq, wasting away our soldiers, money, and time. We need a little more time to train and to build, and to negotiate.

#13

It would be wise to pull the current troops out and utilize 3 teams of 100 that are totally mobile with 100% unified backing to do what needs to be done

There is no clear line between ho is and who is not the enemy or who is willing to blow themselves up over a religious belief so you eliminate all that make thyself a viable target

The tanker that was destroyed was an excellent example of just what needs to be done, force those to make a decision to rid or be ridden

Go in with 300 100 % mobile service men and force the undecided to make a decision

Then get out and let the people get back to their backward undeveloped way of existence and extinguish as needed by drone

Tall One your day is near, remember the words

#12

NO. Bring all the troops home. If the Taliban or al Queda threaten us, then speak softly and use a big stick – nuke’em and send them all back to the stone age. If they want to live in peace, then let them live in peace. Our defense industry doesn’t need more profits.

#11

Most if not all American military extensions of foreign policy have been a disaster, Afghanistan is no different. Americans go home, police your streets, look after your poor and dispossessed, toss Dicky Cheney in jail and yank every cent in his coffers to pay down your national debt. No more wasted American young people in Afghanistan or Iraq (or Iran).

#10

No more troops to Afghanistan/Pakistan. Bring them home. How will we know when we have won the war? By what are is our country judging wins and losses? The longer we are there, the more enemies we create. Let’s get it over with, and get out of there immediately. I thought Obama would work for peace, but it isn’t happening. Perhaps he needs more pressure from those of us who want peace.

#9

inasmuch as afghanistan has the reputation as the “graveyard of empires” and u.s. foreign policy has shown little success of late, there is no reason for us to continue to occupy the godforsaken place except to keep the militants out of pakistan’s nuclear command. its not about the afghans but all about their nuclear neighbors. would that other n.a.t.o./e.u nations realize this and contribute to the effort….it would help make it look less like the occupation it is.

#8

No, we should not send more troops into Afghanistan. One nation cannot change the character of another nation. And Afghanistan does not want to become westernized…and that is what the US and Britain are trying to do. We want to make them follow our code of conduct. Many nations before the US have tried to change the character of the Afghanis – and all have failed. Get our troops out of there now Obama. You promised you’d bring our troops home. We need the money and the resources in this country. I’m tired of pouring money into the corrupt regimes of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. We could use that money to protect our own borders from terrorists…not make a bunch of ingrates rich.

#7

The average person looking at this believe that US or NATO troops are responsible for killing hundreds of civilians every week in Afghanistan and Iraq. We dont. The Taliban kills Thousands of Afghans every month. Every day a soldier or soldiers die, Daljit comes on with a dour face and laments as if it were a massacre. We’ve fought battles where we had more KIA in 1 Day than we have in the entire Afghan war. Oddly, PBS and the rest of the press also never report on enemy casualties unless a civilian happens to be among them. We either add more troops or lose.

#6

I think we will need more if Obama is to achieve his promise of getting Osama. Actually, its all a waste.

#5

The right number is probably closer to 80,000 than 40,000…either way, the alternative is the death of Afghanistan. Look at how well we did killing Somalia.

#4

Absolutely yes(and I have family that will wind up serving there). The alternative is Afghanistan’s return to the Taliban…nothing short of that can be hoped for. In the early 90s we along with the UN were engaged in relief efforts in Somalia, then we disengaged for reason still unclear to most, as a result Osama bin Laden called The USA a “Paper Tiger” and started a terror campaign against The USA, and the Wolrd at large. Additionally, Somalia is now a failed state and host to the genesis of yet another Islamist terror group known as al Shabab…Who will Their “Paper Tiger” be? Groups like the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and al Shabab germinate in the soil of failed states, then export terror worldwide. We don’t have enough troops to win in Afghanistan now, so maintaining the status quo becomes cancerous.. eating through our men and materials while destroying our moral and allowing the Taliban to grow stronger. If we withdraw, our troops died for nothing, and I for one wouldn’t want to be assigned to rearguard as we retreated and withdrew . The Taliban will kill millions, just like when we pulled out of Vietnam. 8 million died in SE Asia as a direct consequence of that withdrawl. Considering the Taliban’s willingness to kill as many Afghans as it takes, we’re likely to see a repeat of that plus a resurgence of Alqaeda and it’s offshoots and more mass attacks internationally. We give McCristal what he needs to destroy the Taliban, and win this war. We need enough boots on the ground to Take, Clear, Build, Hold, and Deny ground to the Taliban. Then those “moderate Talibans” the Obama Administration is so found of referring to will go back to being villagers. It’s working in Iraq, there’s no reason it can’t in Afghanistan.

#3

I think more troops should be sent. about 20,000 more should be sent to help train the Afgan troops and work in concert with the Pakistanies in their efforts for fighting the Taliban/el-quida

#2

It is an unfortunate situation the US finds itself in, but additional troops is not the answer. The US only has itself to blame for this tragic quagmire, but should as quietly as possible begin to exit Afganistan and let the the Afghan decide their own future. The US should also be prepared to assist those Afghans who will be most at risk should the Afghan people choose a future course that would put their lives in danger.

#1

Obama doing way more damage in Afghanistan/Pakistan than Bush ever did; hellfire missals killing innocent civilians, along w/targets. All this has done is rallied them against us. They just want us out and we should go. Don’t believe Fox news (on anything)
peace.

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