By setting a deadline for withdrawal.
Ah, the best plans of mice and men...
When reading that article, one thing becomes apparent: President Obama wants US involvement over by Summer 2011. If this is not accomplished, he knows that his base, the lunatic left, will create massive problems for his re-election.
So what does he do?
In the name of political expediency, he wants the war over as soon as possible. So 30 000 new troops head to Afghanistan.
But they're not going there methodically and with adequate preparation:
Reflecting the increased sense of urgency, Obama is to speed deployment of an extra 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan within the next six months – a much faster timetable than the 12 to 18 months that had been briefed by US officials up until today.
The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, spoke today of "an accelerated timetable". During a round of television interviews he said the faster the US forces move in, the faster they will move out. "We can't be there forever," he said.
Obama was looking for an "end game" and wanted to "get in there quickly" and transfer responsibility for security to the Afghan military as rapidly as possible, Gibbs said. An administration official said the US aimed to begin winding down troop numbers in July 2011.
Gibbs indicated that there would be no further escalations beyond the one Obama approved on Sunday. Asked on Good Morning America if this would be the last order for extra troops, he said: "The president sure believes so."
US officials said Obama wants almost all the US troops out before the end of his first term in office in January 2013, leaving behind a small contingency force. Gibbs said the president did not want to leave the problem to his successor.
The President does not want to leave the problem to his successor?
Does this mean that Obama is not running for a second term? Gee, how can anyone have missed that?
That's the surprise of the title.
I know, get real: the only reason that President Obama is doing what he is doing is in preparation to being re-elected.
But think about this: the best laid plans come to naught when in war. No plan survives contact with the enemy (and any commander who insists on carrying a mission through without regard to what the enemy does is a fool) and this one will certainly not either: the Taliban now know that all they have to do is lie low for the next 12 months and wait for the Americans and their allies to leave. In this regard, the President is an idiot: you never tell your enemy what your plans are. This is sheer stupidity.
Unless, of course, you want to lose while pretending to want to win.
The risk for Obama is that the extra 30,000 troops may not be enough to counter an increasingly confident Taliban and that the timetable for training the Afghan army and police is over-optimistic.
Two brigades, one from the US marines and one from the army, plus reserves, amounting to 30,000, are to be sent to Afghanistan over the next six months, bringing American troops in the country to 100,000. They are to be based in the south and east, where US and British forces are under pressure and badly in need of reinforcements. The first of the marines are due to arrive before Christmas.
Britain has already committed to sending more troops. Extra troops for Afghanistan will be on the agenda at a Nato meeting scheduled for next week.
There are 95,000 Afghan troops at present and the US wants that number up to 134,000 by October 2010, three years earlier than originally envisaged, and then to 240,000 by 2013. There are about 92,000 Afghan police and the US target is 160,000 by 2013.
There is scepticism about whether the Afghan army and police can be trained up that quickly to take over. At present, the Afghan army has a loss rate of about 25% of its members trained by US and its Nato allies, the bulk of whom just walk away.
Obama, who has already set a timetable for withdrawal of a sizeable chunk of US forces from Iraq by 2011, is keen to shed the label of "war president" and increase his chances of re-election to a second term. Public opinion in the US is steadily turning against the Afghanistan war in the face of mounting American casualties and lack of faith in Hamid Karzai's government.
Obama spoke to Karzai for an hour late on Monday night to brief him about the new strategy that will include "benchmarks" for the Afghan government not only to train more members of the Afghan army and police but also to take steps to tackle government corruption.
So, we see the various outs:
1) Blame the Afghanistani for failing to be like us, failing to change their culture to be "civilized", and let the inevitable corruption be the reason for wallking away ("We were there to help, but darn it, those guys were so corrupt that we just couldn't stand it any more")
2) By publicly chastising Karzai for corruption, the US government is doing its level best to support a self-fulfilling prophecy, while at the same time being the ones most responsible for corruption (the incompetence of the State Department, ever desiring to be everyone's friend, as well as that of the NGOs, is already legendary) in Afghanistan: hence the US can easily generate, if it so desires, a reason to get out whenever it wants.
3) Unrealistic plans and a deliberate ignoring of reality means that the White House plans are a recipe for failure.
What should have Obama done instead?
First and foremost, don't tell the world and the enemy what your plans are. Really. Doing that is really, really ... stupid.
Go with what the military wants: an orderly and deliberate escalation to keep the Taliban engaged and thinking that they are the ones controlling the fighting (guerrilla forces usually are until a counter-insurgency nails them), such that when the additional forces are in-country and ready, that a kind of reverse Tet can be accomplished, with the insurgents losing both the political and military conflict.
Third, work closely with the Pakistanis to eliminate the safe havens.
Fourth, and this needs to be done simultaneously, rebuild Afghanistan as Afghanistan: you are not going to rebuild the country as anything other than a tribal society. It will be corrupt (unless you understand that this isn't corruption, it's the way things work there) and it will be to a certain degree dysfunctional, but it will work: that is all that matters.
The only time to leave is when the last madras closes because the hate is gone. The hate will be gone when everyone there realizes that the only path to heaven is a virtuous life and not martyrdom.