It's a huge gamble in a series of gambles now defining Obama's place in history. I'd suggest he's thought through this move, but even he can't know the outcome.
I'd also suggest that if Osama bin Laden's still alive, he must be laughing. He's damn near bankrupted us. We sure could've used the trillion dollars spent on unnecessary armaments, war and nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Yet, instead of cutting back, Obama's upping the ante.
Eight years after the U.S. began bombing and occupying Afghanistan to little good effect, Obama's plan suggests and demonstrates the folly of ever allowing President Bush to lead us into two wars in his inimitable style--demonizing opposition at home while bombing, invading, and occupying abroad" and leaving the mess for someone else to sort out.
That would be Obama, and he's got a lot of sorting to do. The mess he's inherited surely is vindication for those of us who opposed these Bush wars from the beginning.
It's hard to imagine how things could've gone much worse.
In Iraq, we weakened one of the main barriers separating Israel from its enemy, Iran, by bringing down Iran's hated Sunni foes in Iraq and putting Iran's Shiite brethren in charge there. As Washington Post reporter and author, Thomas Ricks, said recently on C-Span, no country has benefited more from our invasion and occupation of Iraq, than Iran has.
In Afghanistan, it's even worse. By bombing and invading we drove al-Qaeda and much of the Taliban into Pakistan, dramatically destabilizing that nuclear-armed nation.
It's hard to see how a surge in Afghanistan will repair that. More likely it'll inflame anti-American passions throughout the Muslim world, especially among the Sunni majority.
Ricks and others report that fewer than 100 al-Qaeda even exist in Afghanistan right now. That's one for every 1,000 American troops under Obama's plan. Every 2,000 if you count the paid contractors and other shadowy groups there, such as Blackwater. Add to that the involvement of shadowy Pakistani, Saudi, Yemeni and other forces, and the only thing clear is that you and I see through a glass darkly when it comes to Obama's war policies.
Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh has reported steadfastly in the New Yorker that U.S. and Northern Alliance Afghani forces not only drove the scariest al-Qaeda and Taliban elements into Pakistan years ago, but that secret U.S. and Pakistani elements actually cleared the path and escorted many of them from Tora Bora into Pakistan, possibly including bin Laden.
Manifestly, there's much that you and I don't know about motives and bedfellows, both here and abroad. Whatever myriad wellsprings have been feeding them, both our wars are proving to have been catastrophic mistakes. A precise and efficient seek and arrest-or-destroy strategy, paved with U.S. cash and world sympathy following 9/11 would've been far preferable.
I'll not go into the torture, lies, corruption, broken treaties, lowered prestige, economic ruin, wasted resources and worse that the previous administration dragged our country through in its War on Terror. The results are everywhere visible in broken lives and unnecessary violence here and abroad, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, where millions of casualties and displaced families haunt the hearts and minds of thinking people, compassionate people, on this planet.
In fairness to Bush, one could say our first mistake was to embark on a strategy of "giving Russia its Vietnam" in the words of foreign policy authority, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who used to brag about his role in "luring Russia into Afghanistan" over 30 years ago under President Carter. I think it proved to be a big mistake to help arm anti-Soviet forces there under Reagan and Bush the Daddy, and to turn our heads while our so-called ally, Pakistan, developed nuclear weapons and sold such technology around the globe.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, admitting blowback from such long ago strategies, has suggested our real failure came later, when we abandoned Afghanistan at the end of the Cold War--X'd it out of our budget--and allowed the Taliban to rise there.
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