Donnerstag, November 12, 2009

A Weak President...

Well, it certainly looks like history is repeating: a President, by all indications a smart fellow, cannot make up his mind because he doesn't like the options being presented to him.

See here.

The last time we had such a President was Carter, and I don't think I need to enumerate his failings.

But this time it's President Obama who is, effectively, openly declaring his inability to make decisions based on reality:

President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

The whole point of having his national security team provide options is for him to make a decision: instead, this:

Military officials said Obama has asked for a rewrite before and resisted what one official called a one-way highway toward war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendations for more troops. The sense that he was being rushed and railroaded has stiffened Obama's resolve to seek information and options beyond military planning, officials said, though a substantial troop increase is still likely.

Reading between the lines: President Obama doesn't like the reality of the situation and wants the reality to change.

Right in keeping with the cluelessness of the Democrats in general, this underscores how dangerous President Obama's policies are increasingly becoming.

The evolving U.S. policy, already remapped early in Obama's tenure, increasingly acknowledges that the insurgency can be blunted but not defeated outright by force.

And this is where the current administration is throwing it all away: by believing this.

Any insurgency that has a safe haven is very, very difficult to beat. However, it can be done: Vietnam was an example of this. The establishment of safe hamlets, which did involve forced relocation, dried up the ability of the North Vietnamese - the Viet Cong was no longer a player in the conflict after being devastated in the Tet Offensive - to hide their troops amongst a largely passive rural population. This is why the North had to use large-scale conventional attacks to defeat the South.

The insurgency in Afghanistan can be defeated, but it means redrawing the face of the country and relocating hundreds of thousands of tribal members to safe zones, and then ruthlessly destroying the ability of the Taliban to operate out of safe havens across the border. It means actually waging a war, going after the enemy, rather than trying to protect civilians and avoid civilian casualties. It means significant cooperation with the Pakistanis to finally bring the Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan under direct control.

Only 2% of Pakistan's population lives there, but as the government of Pakistan exercises, at best, only nominal control over the region, winning this conflict means ensuring that this is not the safe haven for the Taliban that it has been for the last 8 years.

And it is the Taliban that has control there. These territories are the safe havens for the conflict in Afghanistan: without dealing with this, the war will be fought in Afghanistan. It makes vastly more sense to take it to the source.

What does this mean? It means that both the US and Pakistan governments have to relocate just over 3 mn civilians into government-controlled enclaves, one city and one tribe after another, fighting the Taliban hidden amongst these civilians as you go.

It's not a pleasant option, nor is it a simple one: however, by drying up the ability of the Taliban to hide amongst the tribes and to be able to withdraw across the borders, Afghanistan will recover: the Taliban are not native to Afghanistan, but rather want to impose themselves on that country.

Abandoning the Afghanistan government to the Taliban because it's not perfect and can't handle running the country is sheer stupidity.

But apparently the President's chosen plan of action...if and when he gets around to deciding.

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