Obamathink on Afghanistan: Escalate to Exit - by Stephen Lendman
Ahead of his address to the nation on December 1, The New York Times broke the news in an Eric Schmitt article titled, "Obama Issues Order for More Troops in Afghanistan," saying:
During a late November 29 Oval Office meeting with top Pentagon brass, "Obama issued orders to send about 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan (over the next six months in) what may be one of the most defining decisions of his presidency." Compounding months of public betrayal, it's perhaps another outrage that will make him a one-term president, the way Vietnam ended Lyndon Johnson's hope for a second term.
An additional 30,000+ will raise US forces to about 100,000 plus whatever additional numbers NATO countries provide that at best will be small and come grudgingly for a war no one believes can be won, and some feel never should have been waged.
To these numbers, add a shadow footprint consisting of tens of thousands of private contractors - 73,968 according to a September 21, 2009 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report as of June 2009. Included are familiar names like Kellogg, Brown and Root, Fluor Corp, Lockheed Martin and hired guns like DynCorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater USA) costing tens of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan for lack of oversight so scandalous that rampant waste, fraud, and abuse go unmonitored and will worsen with more troops.
In addition, CRS reports that supporting each soldier costs $1 million a year, partly because private contractors replaced US troops at a far higher expense plus no oversight giving them license to steal for over eight years and do it as well in Iraq. Yet policy going forward will worsen things and greatly increase costs, already over-stretched by America's largest ever military budget at a time the country has no enemies.
Worse still, besides earlier in the year reinforcements, more buildup "represents a high-stakes gamble by a new commander in chief that he can turn....an eight-year old" quagmire into victory, a possibility many in the Pentagon think unlikely to impossible and other experts agree.
According to Schmitt, Obama will test "his ability to rally an American public that according to polls has grown sour on the war, as well as (vice president Joe Biden and) his fellow Democracts in Congress" - like Senator Carl Levin, Armed Services Committee chairman, as well as Colin Powell, and his Afghan ambassador, Karl Eikenberry.
On condition of anonymity, a senior Defense Department official told The Times that "the first additional troops would be thousands of Marines sent to opium-rich Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold in the south....(They'll begin arriving) in January (to be) followed by a steady flow of tens of thousands."
A November 25 Washington Post Scott Wilson article titled, "War speech to outline escalation and exit" strategies will "outline plans for ending it. (He'll) outline a modest endgame (to) allow US forces to leave and set a general time frame" in 2011, according to some, and after what's announced, beginning in July 2011, over a decade after American forces arrived.
Timelines are always flexible, and Obama hedged by saying withdrawal depends on "conditions on the ground," with further interventions likely because "The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly. (It) extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan," meaning Iran, Somalia, and perhaps Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and/or Cuba, given the Pentagon's growing presence in Colombia as a regional garrison for waging hemispheric conflicts.
Yet he said America can't afford and shouldn't shoulder an open-ended commitment - which, among others, begs these questions:
-- besides the situation in Iraq, why are we in Afghanistan at all; and
-- why for an unwinnable, illegal war over-stretching the federal budget toward bankruptcy while ignoring vital homeland needs.
Also, opposition is increasing, including among congressional Democrats. The situation is unstable and much depends on uncontrollable factors and a growing conviction that after eight years, the war is lost and withdrawal, not escalation is advised.
Others fear imperial madness, perpetual wars, the illusion of Pax Americana, and the nation transitioning toward tyranny, already entrenched with a strong foothold, but who'll tell the public when the media won't, and everyone knows politicians lie, especially the president and others with power.