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Thread: Afghanistan: US Marines Pushing into Taliban Areas

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Afghanistan: US Marines Pushing into Taliban Areas

    Related:

    Obama, McChrystal meet on Air Force One
    President summons Afghan commander for chat while in Denmark


    Obama and McChrystal meet aboard Air Force One
    President Barack Obama meets with Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal on Friday.

    updated 19 minutes ago

    COPENHAGEN - President Barack Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan for a 25-minute meeting aboard Air Force One on Friday as part of his review of a war strategy that has divided the president's national security team.
    ...

    The Rest of the Story Here

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Afghanistan: US Marines Pushing into Taliban Areas

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    President Barack Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan for a 25-minute meeting aboard Air Force One on Friday as part of his review of a war strategy that has divided the president's national security team.
    Yup, 25 minutes should be more than enough to explain what needs to be done in Afghanistan to win what the Soviets couldn't without any of the restrictions imposed on Western forces.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Afghanistan: US Marines Pushing into Taliban Areas

    NYT: Obama’s looming Afghanistan decision
    President is having second thoughts about sending more troops to war

    By James Traub
    The New York Times
    updated 6:15 a.m. ET, Sun., Oct . 4, 2009

    Over the next few weeks, Barack Obama must make the most difficult decision of his presidency to date: whether or not to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan, as his commanding general there, Stanley McChrystal, has reportedly proposed.

    This summer, Mr. Obama described the effort in Afghanistan as “a war of necessity.” In such a war, you do whatever you need to do to win. But now, as criticism mounts from those who argue that the war in Afghanistan cannot, in fact, be won with more troops and a better strategy, the President is having second thoughts.

    A war of necessity is presumably one that is “fundamental to the defense of our people,” as Mr. Obama has said about Afghanistan. But if such a war is unwinnable, then perhaps you must reconsider your sense of its necessity and choose a more modest policy instead.

    The conservative pundit George Will suggested as much in a recent column in which he argued for a reduced, rather than enhanced, American presence in Afghanistan. Mr. Will cited the testimony of George Kennan, the diplomat and scholar, to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Vietnam in 1966: “Our country should not be asked, and should not ask of itself, to shoulder the main burden of determining the political realities in any other country. ... This is not only not our business, but I don’t think we can do it successfully.”

    Mr. Kennan’s astringent counsel has become piercingly relevant today, as Americans discover, time and again, their inability to shape the world as they would wish. Indeed, George W. Bush’s tenure looks in retrospect like an inadvertent proof of the wisdom of restraint, for his ambitious policy to transform the Middle East through regime change and democracy promotion largely ended in failure. The irony is that Mr. Obama, who as a candidate reassured conservative critics that he had read and absorbed the wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr, Mr. Kennan and other “realists,” is now himself accused of ignoring the limits of American power, like Mr. Bush or Lyndon Johnson, in his pursuit of victory in an unwinnable war.

    The idea that American foreign policy must be founded upon a prudent recognition of the country’s capacities and limits, rather than its hopes and wishes, gained currency after World War II, possibly the last unequivocally necessary war in American history. At the war’s end, of course, the global pre-eminence of the United States was beyond question. But Mr. Kennan, Mr. Niebuhr, Hans Morgenthau and others tried to imbue their sometimes-grandiose fellow-citizens with a rueful awareness of the intransigence of things.

    “The problems of this world are deeper, more involved, and more stubborn than many of us realize,” Mr. Kennan said in a 1949 speech to the Academy of Political Science. “It is imperative, therefore, that we economize with our limited resources and that we apply them where we feel that we will do the most good.”

    The realists won that debate. Mr. Kennan argued that a policy of confrontation with Stalin’s Russia, advocated by the more fervent anti-Communists, would be neither effective nor necessary; the Soviets, rather, could be checked by “intelligent long-range policies” designed to counter — to contain — their ambitions. Of course he lost in Vietnam, where the nation-building dreams of a generation of cold war liberals came to grief. The neoconservatives who came to power with George W. Bush were just as dismissive of the cautionary sprit of realism as the liberals of an earlier generation had been, and thought of themselves as conservative heirs of the idealistic tradition of Woodrow Wilson.

    Now, as Americans debate whether or not to double down in Afghanistan, it’s striking how opinion is divided not according to left and right, or hawk and dove, but rather by the difference between the Wilsonian “what we must do” and the Kennanite “what we can do.”

    Stephen Holmes, a left-leaning law professor at New York University, recently wrote a critique of General McChrystal’s plan that almost exactly echoed Will/Kennan: “Turning an illegitimate government into a legitimate one is simply beyond the capacities of foreigners, however wealthy or militarily unmatched.”

    Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a hawkish Democrat, has reportedly urged the president to devote less of the country’s energies to Afghanistan in order to apply them where they will do the most good — Pakistan. On the other hand, advocates of the proposed new strategy, like Peter Bergen, an expert on Islamic terrorism, invoke America’s “obligation” to the Afghan people and the strategic catastrophe that would come of ceding the country to the Taliban. One side reasons from the means, the other from the ends.

    In the real world, of course, the distinction between these two very different dispositions is a fluid one. After all, in a true war of necessity, like World War II, a state and a people summon the capacity to do what must be done, no matter how difficult. So the objective question at the heart of the current debate is whether the battle for Afghanistan represents such a war, or whether — like those for Vietnam or Iraq — the problem that it presents can be solved by less bloody and costly means.

    Americans broadly agree that their government must at all costs prevent major attacks on American soil by Al Qaeda. But there the consensus ends, and their questions begin: Do we need to sustain the rickety Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai in order to achieve that objective? If so, will a combination of overwhelming military force and an accompanying civilian surge not only repel the Taliban but make Afghanistan self-sustaining over the long term?

    The leaked McChrystal plan argues both that we must and that we can, and that a more modest effort “will likely result in failure.” Critics like the military analyst Andrew Bacevich insist, by contrast, that we cannot and that we need not — that Americans can contain the threat of jihad through such measures as enhanced homeland defense. Others have argued for a middle course involving a smaller troop increase and less nation-building.

    George Kennan was right about the cold war. But the question now is whether “containment” is also the right metaphor for Afghanistan, and for the threat of Islamic extremism. Containment (Mr. Kennan also used the imagery of chess and the pruning and pinning of trees) is a metaphor of geographical contiguity. Soviet ambitions could be checked here, conceded there. America’s adversary was not, Mr. Kennan insisted, a global force called Communism; it was Russia, an expansionist but conservative power. By that logic, the United States could lose in Vietnam with no lasting harm to itself.

    But Al Qaeda, and jihadism generally, is a global force that seeks control of territory chiefly as a means to carry out its global strategy. It has no borders at which to be checked; its success or failure is measured in ideological rather than territorial terms — like Communism without Russia. Mr. Kennan often suggested that America’s own example of democratic prosperity was one of its most powerful weapons during the cold war; and plainly that is so today as well. That is one weapon with which the threat of Islamic extremism must be challenged; but it is only one.

    The question boils down to this: How grave a price would Americans pay if Afghanistan were lost to the Taliban? Would this be a disaster, or merely, as with Vietnam, a terrible misfortune for which the United States could compensate through a contemporary version of Mr. Kennan’s “intelligent long-range policies”? If the latter, then how can Americans justify the immense cost in money and manpower, and the inevitable loss of life, attendant upon General McChrystal’s plan? How can they gamble so much on the corrupt, enfeebled and barely legitimate government of President Karzai? Why insist on seeking to do that which in all probability can not be done?

    But what if it’s the former? What if the fall of Kabul would constitute not only an American abandonment of the Afghan people, but a major strategic and psychological triumph for Al Qaeda, and a recruiting tool of unparalleled value? Then the Kennanite calculus would no longer apply, and the fact that nobody can be completely confident that General McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy will work would not be reason enough to forsake it.

    In that case — and perhaps only in that case — Afghanistan really would be a war of necessity.

    This article, "The Distance Between ‘We Must’ and ‘We Can’," first appeared in The New York Times.

    More on: Afghanistan

    Copyright © 2009 The New York Times

    NYT: Obama’s looming Afghanistan decision - The New York Times- msnbc.com

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Afghanistan: US Marines Pushing into Taliban Areas

    Stephen Holmes, a left-leaning law professor at New York University, recently wrote a critique of General McChrystal’s plan that almost exactly echoed Will/Kennan: “Turning an illegitimate government into a legitimate one is simply beyond the capacities of foreigners, however wealthy or militarily unmatched.”
    That may say it all right there...

  5. #20
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    Default Re: Afghanistan: US Marines Pushing into Taliban Areas

    From Toronto Star Newspaper
    Shame Shame for hiding our Women Soldiers.Shame Shame!

    OTTAWA–Officials in the Prime Minister's Office ordered the military to hide the return to Canada of the first female soldier killed in combat because they didn't want her flag-draped coffin seen on the news, according to former chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier.
    In a new autobiography, the popular former top soldier recounts the battles he waged against all-controlling officials in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Meddling in the hero's welcome that the Canadian Forces had planned for the repatriation of Capt. Nichola Goddard was Hillier's "line in the sand."
    "We ain't going to do that," Hillier recalls telling former defence minister Gordon O'Connor, himself a former army commander. "It's as simple as that."
    Though the highly anticipated book, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War, is not scheduled for release until next week, the Star purchased a copy from an Ottawa-area bookstore.
    Goddard, 26, was the first Canadian woman killed in action since World War II and the first female combat soldier to die on the front lines in Afghanistan. Though the government officials did succeed in partially shielding her repatriation from Canadians, the policy was overturned for good days later.
    The controversy over letting the media show the return of Goddard's body from the dusty district of Panjwaii, where she was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade on May 17, 2006, turned into a very public battle when her grieving father upbraided the Conservative government for censoring a politically painful event. But it was also the source of a private dispute between the head of the Canadian Forces and his political masters.
    Hillier, who served as chief of defence staff from 2005 to 2008, was following a military policy of ensuring that every Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan would be honoured as a war hero. The rookie government had enacted a policy a month earlier of shielding the flag-draped coffins from public view by keeping journalists outside the fenced airfield at CFB Trenton.
    Both were preparing for what they rightly anticipated would be the dramatic increase in Canadian casualties. That number now stands at 131 soldiers and one diplomat.
    In the book, Hillier recalls attending graduation ceremonies at the Royal Military College in Kingston in May 2006 and being called into a backroom to take a call from the Prime Minister's Office. The unelected staffers gave the decorated soldier and the defence minister orders that they wanted a change in Goddard's repatriation ceremony – an emotional but fairly standard event where the coffin is unloaded from a military plane at CFB Trenton and driven to Toronto on Highway 401 in a sombre procession.
    "Look, don't bring the Airbus in, or if you bring the plane in, turn it away from the cameras so that people can't see the bodies coming off, or do it after dark, or do it down behind the hangars, or just bar everybody from it," Hillier quotes the PMO staffers as saying. "They clearly didn't want that picture of the flag-draped coffin on the news."
    Hillier refused to let political considerations upset his plans. To his credit, he writes, O'Connor felt the same way.
    "We had set our mind to supporting the families, and to doing so much more effectively than we had ever done in the past," he writes.
    So, while the media were barred when Goddard's plane landed at Trenton shortly before midnight on May 20, military photos were released publicly soon after. And, one week later at the funeral in Calgary, her father, Tim, put an end to the out-of-the blue privacy edict, which was first announced in April 2006.
    "I find it troubling that the privacy decision means that we are keeping the press outside the wire," he said.
    A grieving father was the one critic the Conservatives could not cut down and Harper quickly modified his controversial policy, which appeared modelled on the one then-president George W. Bush had put in place in the U.S. for soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    Harper said he was "troubled" to hear the criticism and explained his instructions that families should first be asked whether they wanted the ceremony to be made public.
    "If all families were agreed on making that particular ceremony public, I thought our government should have no difficulty with that," he said. "I'm not sure what happened in this case."
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